With this letter Penn sent presents to the Indian chiefs and told them that he would soon come to see them himself, and make arrangements about the land.
But it was not till the following year that Penn set out for his colony. When he landed the Dutch and Swedes greeted him with joy. And to show that they acknowledged him as their Governor they presented him, as in old feudal times, with a sod of earth, a bowl of water, and a branch of a tree. Penn then passed on to the spot which he had chosen for his capital. And as showing forth the spirit in which his colony was founded, he called his city Philadelphia or the city of brotherly love.
It was near this town that Penn met the Indian chiefs and made a treaty with them as he had promised to do. In the Indian language the spot was called the Place of Kings, and had been used as a meeting place by the surrounding tribes for long ages. Here there grew a splendid elm, a hoary giant of the forest which for a hundred years and more had withstood the tempests.
Beneath the spreading branches of this tree Penn took his stand. He was young and handsome, and although he wore the simple garb of the Quakers he had not yet perhaps quite forgotten the "modish" ways of his younger days, for about his waist he had knotted a pale blue scarf. Beside him stood his cousin, the deputy governor, and a few more soberly clad Quakers. In front of them, in a great half circle were ranged the Indians, the old men in front, the middle-aged behind, and last of all the young men. They were gorgeous in paint and feathers, and armed with hatchets, bows and arrows, but the Quakers carried no weapons of any kind.
Greetings being over, an ancient warrior advanced, and amid deep silence, tied a horn upon his forehead. This was the sign of his greatness, and also a sign that the spot was sacred. Immediately all the braves threw down their weapons, and seated themselves upon the grass. Then the old warrior announced that they were ready to hear the words of the White Chief.
Then Penn spoke to the gathered Indians reminding them that the Great Spirit wished all men to live in love and brotherhood, and as the Redman listened his heart went out in love to this White Chief who had friendship in his eyes, and kindliness in his voice. And there under the spreading branches of the great elm tree they swore to live in peace and brotherly love "as long as the rivers shall run, and while the sun, moon and stars endure."
These Indians never broke their word and for the next seventy years there was peace in Pennsylvania between the Redman and the White.
The Indians gave Penn the name of Onas which is the Algonquin word for Feather. Ever afterwards too they called the Governor of Pennsylvania Onas, and whoever and whatever he was, for them he was great and good.
But Penn was not only the great Chief Onas, he was also Father Penn. For he roamed the woods with the Indians, talking with them, and sharing their simple food like one of themselves. This greatly delighted the Indians, and to show their pleasure they would perform some of their wild dances. Then up Penn would spring and dance with the best of them. So he won their hearts. They loved him so much that the highest praise they could give any man was to say "he is like the great Onas," and it was said that any one dressed like a Quaker was far safer among the Indians than one who carried a gun.
Life seemed so easy in Pennsylvania that in the first years thousands of colonists came flocking to the new colony. It grew faster than any other colony, so fast indeed that houses could not be built quickly enough. So for a time many of the new settlers had to live in caves dug out of the banks of the Delaware River. It was in one of these caves that the first baby citizen of the city of brotherly love was born.
Pennsylvania prospered and grew fast, but there were constant troubles with Lord Baltimore about the border line between his province and Penn's. The British Kings in those days gave land charters in the most reckless fashion and over and over again the boundaries of one province overlapped those of the others. Then of course there was trouble. This had happened with Virginia and Maryland. Now it happened with Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The quarrel at length became so bad that Penn went home to England to have the matter settled; after that for a time things were better, but the quarrel was not really settled. It was not settled until many years after both Penn and Lord Baltimore were dead. Then, in 1767, two English astronomers, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, surveyed and fixed the boundary which ever since has been known as the Mason and Dixon Line. Every mile a small stone was placed with B on one side and P on the other. Along the eastern part, too, every five miles a larger stone was placed with the arms of Penn on one side and those of Baltimore on the other. But further west these were discontinued. For in those days when there were few roads it was difficult to get these heavy stones carried to the proper places.
When Penn went back to England he had meant to return to his colony very soon. But fifteen years passed before be was able to do so. During this time King Charles II, who had given him the charter for his great Possessions, died, and his brother James, who as Duke of York had been Penn's friend, was driven from the throne. Then for a time Penn's great province was taken from him, because he was suspected of helping his old friend, the dethroned king. The colony was then placed under the control of the Governor of New York.
Two years later, however, Penn was cleared from the charge of treason and his right to Pennsylvania was again recognised. Then once more he crossed the seas to visit his possessions in the New World.
He found that in fifteen years great changes had been wrought. The two or three thousand inhabitants had now increased to twenty thousand. Many of the new settlers were not Quakers but Protestants from Germany, Holland and Sweden, and Presbyterians from Scotland and Ireland. Penn welcomed them all, but they on their side had grown apart from him. They were no longer his children. He was no longer Father Penn, but the Governor and proprietor.
From this Governor the settlers demanded greater liberties than they had. Penn was grieved, but he met the clamour in the most generous spirit. "Friends," he said, "if in the constitution there be anything that jars, alter it." So it was altered until practically the colonists became a self-governing people.
Now for a second time Penn felt himself obliged to return to England. He did not want to go, but longed to live out the rest of his life in his colony which, in spite of all troubles and difficulties, be loved dearly.
"I cannot think of such a voyage without great reluctance," he said. "For I promised myself that I might stay so long, at least, with you, as to render everybody entirely easy and safe. For my heart is among you, as well as my body, whatever some people may please to think. And no unkindness or disappointment shall ever be able to alter my love to the country."
So with just a little soreness in his heart Penn sailed away never to return. At home trouble and misfortune awaited him. And in the midst of his troubles sickness fell upon him. For six years a helpless invalid with failing mind, he lingered on. Then in 1718 he died. He was seventy-four. Only four years of his long life had been spent in America. Yet he left his stamp upon the continent far more than any other man of his time. He was the greatest, most broad-minded of all the colony builders. As he said himself he had sailed against wind and tide all his life. But the buffetings of fortune left him sweet and true to the end.
Chapter 41 - How Benjamin Franklin Came to Philadelphia
After Penn left his colony there was frequent trouble between the Governors and the people. Some of the Governors were untrustworthy, some were weak, none was truly great. But about ten years after Penn's death a truly great man came to Philadelphia. This was Benjamin Franklin. Of all the men of colonial times Franklin was the greatest.
Benjamin was the fifteenth child of his father, a sturdy English Nonconformist who some years before had emigrated from Banbury in England to Boston in America. As the family was so large the children had to begin early to earn their own living. So at the age of ten Benjamin was apprenticed to his own father, who was a tallow chandler, and the little chap spent his days helping to make soap and "dips" and generally making himself useful.
But he did not like it at all. So after a time he was apprenticed to his elder brother James, who had a printing press, and published a little newspaper called the Courant. Benjamin liked that much better. He soon became a good printer, he was able to get hold of books easily, and he spent his spare time reading such books as the "Pilgrim's Progress" and the "Spectator." Very soon too he took to writing, and became anxious to have an article printed in his brother's paper.
But as he was only a boy he was afraid that if his brother knew he had written the article he would never print it. So he disguised his handwriting, and slipped his paper under the door of the printing house at night. It was found next morning, and to Benjamin's delight was thought good enough to be printed in the paper. After that Benjamin wrote often for the little paper. In time however he and his brother began to quarrel, and when he was seventeen Benjamin decided to go to New York to seek his fortune there.
He took ship to New York in 1723 and arrived there one October day with very little money in his pocket and not a friend in the town. He did not find work in New York, but an old printer advised him to go to Philadelphia where he knew his son was in need of a printer.
Benjamin was already three hundred miles from home, and Philadelphia was another hundred miles farther, but he resolved to go.
Fifty miles of the way he trudged on foot, the rest he went by boat, and after nearly a week of most uncomfortable traveling he arrived one Sunday morning at Philadelphia. He was soaked to the skin, dirty and untidy, hungry and tired. His pockets bulged out with shirts and stockings, but save for one Dutch dollar they were empty of money.
Benjamin was tired and dirty, but before everything he was hungry; so he went to a baker's shop and bought three big rolls. As his pockets were full he tucked two of the rolls under his arm and strolled down the street devouring the third, while the clean tidy folk all ready to go to meeting stared at him in wonder.
Such was the first entry of one of America's greatest statesmen into the town which was henceforth to be his home and where he was to become famous; and as a clever Frenchman said "invent the Republic."
In Philadelphia Benjamin found work, and although after a year he left his new home and sailed for England, he soon returned. In ten years' time he was one of the fore most men of Philadelphia and took an interest in everything which concerned the life of the people. He established a circulating library; he was chosen Clerk of the General Assembly; he was appointed postmaster; he established a police force and fire brigade, and helped to found the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Hospital.
In fact he took an interest in everything connected with the welfare of his adopted city, and of Pennsylvania. And when troubles arose with the British Government Franklin was chosen to go to England to try to put matters right. Later on other colonies too asked for his help, and he went to England as the agent, not only of Pennsylvania but of Massachusetts, New Jersey and Georgia.
He was a philosopher and scientist as well as a diplomatist, and he was the first American whose fame spread all over the world.
Chapter 42 - The Founding of North and South Carolina
It was in the part of the United States which we now call North Carolina, you remember, that Sir Walter Raleigh tried to found a colony. That colony came to nothing, and the land which the white men had reclaimed from the wilderness returned once more to the wilderness.
Nearly a hundred years went past before white men again appeared in that part of the country. In 1629 King Charles I granted all this region to Sir Robert Heath, but he made no attempt to colonise it. Then a few settlers from Virginia and New England and the Barbados, finding the land vacant and neglected, settled there.
Meanwhile Charles II had come to the throne, and, wanting to reward eight of his friends who had been staunch to him during the Commonwealth, in 1663 he gave them all the land between latitude 30 and 36 and from sea to sea. If you look on the map you will see that this takes in nearly the whole of the Southern States.
Sir Robert Heath was by this time dead, and his heirs had done nothing with his great territory in America, but as soon as it was given to others they began to make a fuss. Charles II, however, said as Sir Robert had failed to plant a colony his claim no longer held good. So the eight new proprietors took possession of it. This tract of land had already been named Carolina by the Frenchman Ribaut in honour of Charles IX of France, and now the Englishmen who took possession of it kept the old name in honour of Charles II.
The Lords Proprietary then set about drawing up laws for their new country. After an old English title they called the oldest among them the Palatine. Palatine originally meant a person who held some office about a king's palace. It has come to mean one who has royal privileges. So a Prince Palatine is really a little king. When the Palatine died it was arranged that the next in age should take his place. As to the other seven proprietors they all had grand sounding titles, such as Chamberlain, Chancellor, Constable, High Steward, and so on.
Having settled all these grand sounding titles the proprietors went on to frame a system of laws. They called it the Grand Model or Fundamental Constitutions, but it was more like some old English feudal system than anything else. It might have done for the ancient Saxons of the ninth century; it was quite unsuitable for rough colonists in a new and almost uninhabited country. It was quite unsuited for men who had left Europe because they wanted to get away from old conventions and be more free.
Yet the Lords Proprietors said that the Grand Model was to be the law of Carolina for ever and ever. The settlers however, would have nothing to do with the Grand Model, for it was altogether too fanciful for them. The proprietors on their side persisted. But when they found it impossible to force the settlers to obey their laws they changed their Grand Model and tried again. Still it was of no use. The colonists would not have it. So at length, having altered their unalterable rules five times, they gave them up altogether and took to something more simple.
But among much that was foolish and unsuitable in the Grand Model there was one good thing. That was that every one was free to worship God in the way he thought right. If only seven men agreed together, said the Grand Model, they were enough to form a church. All it insisted upon was that people must acknowledge a God, and that they must worship Him openly. Nevertheless, in spite of this they made no provision for worship. No clergymen went with the settlers, and indeed for many years no clergymen settled among them.
But because there was religious freedom people of all religions came to Carolina. Quakers and dissenters of every description sought a refuge there. They came not only from England, but from the other colonies and from foreign countries.
You remember that the Protestants of France were called Huguenots, and that they had had to suffer many things at the hands of Catholic rulers until the good King Henry of Navarre protected them by the Edict of Nantes. Now Louis XIV, who was at this time on the throne of France, revoked that edict. He forbade the Huguenots to worship God in their own way, and he also forbade them to leave the country on pain of death.
But thousands braved death rather than remain and be false to their religion. Some were caught and cruelly punished, but many succeeded in escaping to Holland, England and even to America. So many Huguenots now settled in Carolina. They were hard-working, high-minded people and they brought a sturdiness and grit to the colony which it might otherwise have lacked. Germans too came from the Palatinate, driven thence also by religious persecutions. Irish Presbyterians came fleeing from persecution in Ulster. Jacobites who, having fought for the Stuarts, found Scotland no longer a safe dwelling-place came seeking a new home.
These were all hardy industrious people. But besides these there came many worthless idlers who came to be known as "poor whites." These came because in the early days when the colony was but sparsely peopled, and more settlers were wanted, a law was passed that a new settler need not pay any debts he had made before he came to the colony; and for a year after he came he need pay no taxes. These laws of course brought many shiftless folk who, having got hopelessly into debt somewhere else, ran away to Carolina to get free of it. Indeed so many of these undesirables came that the Virginians called Carolina the Rogues' Harbour.
Besides all these white people there were a great many negroes especially in South Carolina. This came about naturally. The climate of Carolina is hot; there is also a lot of marshy ground good for growing rice. But the work in these rice fields was very unhealthy, and white men could not stand it for long. So a trade in slaves sprang up. Already men had begun to kidnap negroes from the West Coast of Africa and sell them to the tobacco planters of Virginia.
In those days no one saw anything wrong in it. And now that the rice fields of South Carolina constantly required more workers the trade in slaves increased. Whole shiploads were brought at a time. They were bought and sold like cattle, and if they died at their unhealthy work it mattered little, for they were cheap, and there were plenty more where they came from.
Chapter 43 - War With the Indians in North and South Carolina
At first there had been no intention of making two provinces of Carolina. But the country was so large and the settlements made so far apart that very soon it became divided into North and South Carolina. The first settlements made in North Carolina were made round Albemarle Sound, and those of South Carolina at Charleston. One Governor was supposed to rule both states, but sometimes each had a governor. And in all the early years there was trouble between the governors and the people. Sometimes the governors were good men, but more often they were rascals who cared for nothing but their own pockets. So we hear of revolutions, of governors being deposed and imprisoned, of colonists going to England to complain of their governors, of governors going to complain of the colonists.
But far worse than the quarrel between people and governor were the troubles with the Indians. Many thousands of white people had by this time settled in the Carolinas, and the Redman saw himself year by year being driven further and further from his old hunting grounds; so year by year his anger grew. At first he had been friendly to the white man because he brought with him beads and copper ornaments and "fire water." But now he began to hate him.
At length the Indians in North Carolina plotted to kill all the white people. Many tribes of Indians dwelt round the settlements, but the chief among them were the Tuscaroras. These Tuscaroras now arranged with all the other tribes that early on the morning before the new moon they should all with one accord, tomahawk and firebrand in hand, fall upon the Pale-faces and wipe them utterly from the face of the earth.
From tribe to tribe the word was passed till hundreds knew the secret. But the Redman is silent and crafty, and neither by sign nor word did he betray it to the Palefaces.
Suspecting nothing, with perfect faith in their friendship, the white people allowed the Indians to come and go freely in their settlements. Then one night in 1711 a great many appeared, asking for food. Still the white people had no suspicion of evil, and many Indians were allowed even to spend the night in their houses.
The Pale-faces slept peacefully, but for the Redmen there was little rest. They waited impatiently for the dawn. At length the first streaks of light shivered across the sky, and from the woods came a loud fierce war whoop. It was answered by the Indians within the settlements, and with tomahawk in one hand and firebrand in the other they fell upon the still sleeping settlers.
They spared neither man nor woman, neither the old nor the young; and when they could find no more to slay they set fire to the houses. Then those who had hidden themselves were forced to flee from the flames, only to fall beneath the tomahawk. The Swiss and Germans round New Berne and the Huguenots of Bath were the chief sufferers.
But the wonder is that any white men escaped. For their cruel work at an end, and the settlements nought but flaming ruins, the Indians marched through the woods seeking any who had escaped, gathering at length to a spot arranged beforehand. Here they drank "fire water," rejoicing savagely over their victory. Then drunk with brandy and with blood they staggered forth again to continue their horrible labours. For three days the slaughter lasted, for three days the forests rang with terrifying war cries, and village after village was laid in ashes. Then too weary and too drunk for further effort, the Indians ceased their awful work.
At first the white people had been utterly stunned by the suddenness and horror of the uprising, and they were quite incapable of suppressing it by themselves. But soon help came, both from South Carolina and Virginia. Friendly Indians too, who wished to prove to the Pale-faces that they had had no part in the massacre, joined the forces.
Hundreds of the Indians were slain in battle, others were driven from fort to fort. But not for two years were they thoroughly subdued. Then at length, finding themselves no match for the white men, those who were left fled from the province and joined the Five Nations in New York, making from this time forward Six Nations.
In South Carolina too there was war with the Indians. The Yamassees had been among the Indians who marched from South Carolina to fight against their brothers, the Tuscaroras. Yet a little later they too rose against the Pale-faces.
Several causes led to the war, but it was chiefly brought about by the Spaniards who had a settlement at St. Augustine to the south of Carolina. They hated the British, and although the two countries were now at peace the Spaniards did all they could to injure the British colonies in America and elsewhere. So now they sympathised with the Yamassees, both with their real and imaginary grievances, and encouraged them to rise against the British.
Secretly and silently then the Redmen laid their plans. But this time the war did not burst forth entirely without warning. For when the Redman has truly given his faith and love nothing makes him false.
Now there was a chieftain named Sanute who had given his friendship to a Scotsman named Fraser, and he could not bear to think of his friend being slaughtered. So one day Sanute came to Fraser's wife to warn her.
"The British are all bad," he said, "they will all go to an evil place. The Yamassees also will go there if they allow these Pale-faces to remain longer in the land. So we will slay them all. We only wait for the sign of a bloody stick which the Creeks will send. Then the Creeks, the Yamassees, and many other nations will join with the Spaniards to slay the British. So fly in all haste to Charleston. And if your own boat is not large enough I will lend you my canoe."
Mrs. Fraser was very much frightened when she heard Sanute speak like this. But when she told her husband he laughed at her fears. The idea that the Spaniards should join with the Indians against the British seemed to him quite absurd.
"How can the Spaniards go to war with us," he said, "while they are at peace with Great Britain?"
"I know not," replied Sanute." But the Spanish Governor has said that soon there will be a great war between the British and the Spaniards, and while we attack on land he will send great ships to block up the harbours, so that neither man nor woman may escape."
Then laying his hand upon his heart Sanute implored his white friends to flee with all haste. "But if you are determined to stay," he added, "then I will take on myself one last office of friendship, and so that you may not be tortured I will slay you with my own hand."
Still Fraser doubted. But his wife was so terrified that he yielded to her entreaties. And gathering his goods together he got into his canoe with his wife and child, and paddled away to Charleston.
Unfortunately in the hurry of departure Fraser either forgot to warn his friends in the plantation near him, or they, being warned, disregarded it; and a few days later the slaughter began. At daybreak the signal was given, and at the sound of the war whoop the seemingly peaceful Indians were turned suddenly into raging demons who, with tomahawk and torch in hand, sowed destruction and death around. So the land was filled with blood and wailing, pleasant homesteads were laid in ruins, and only heaps of smouldering ashes marked where they had been.
But Governor Craven was one of the best governors of his time. He was a man of action and courage as well as a wise ruler, and he quickly gathered an army with which to march against the savages. The North Carolinians too, remembering gratefully the help which South Carolina had given to them in their need, sent men. Soon the Yamassees, and their friends were defeated and driven from the province. They fled across the border and took refuge in Spanish territory, where they were received with great rejoicing. They might indeed have been heroes returning from a victorious campaign, for the church bells were rung and salutes were fired in their honour.
The Yamassees were crushed, but they were not utterly conquered, from henceforth their hearts were filled with hatred against all the Carolinians. This hatred the Spaniards did their best to keep alive. They supplied the Indians with weapons, and made them valiant with "fire water." Thus encouraged they broke across the borders in small scalping parties, seizing and slaying, often with unspeakable tortures, all those who dwelt in lonely places. These frays were so unceasing, and so deadly, that at length hardly any one dared live in all the border region.
Meanwhile the war against the Indians had cost a great deal of money. And as the Lords Proprietor made a good deal of money out of the colony, the settlers thought they might as well bear some of the expense also. So they sent messengers home to arrange this matter. But the Lords Proprietor seemed to care little about their possessions except as a means of making money. And they refused to pay any of the cost of the war. This made the settlers angry.
The settlers revolt and Carolina becomes a royal province, 1719 They had never liked the rule of the Lords Proprietor; now they were heartily tired of it and they refused to stand it longer. King William III was now upon the throne, and the settlers asked him to make South Carolina a Crown Colony. To this King William agreed. Ten years later North Carolina also became a Crown Colony, and the two Carolinas from henceforth continued to be separate states.
Chapter 44 - The Founding of Georgia
South Carolina extended as far as the River Savannah, and between that river and the Spanish settlement at St. Augustine there stretched a great waste of country inhabited only by the Redmen who ever and anon made raids into Carolina. Southward from this the Spaniards claimed the land and called it Florida; but they made no effort to colonise the wilderness which stretched between Florida and the borders of South Carolina. So at length the idea of founding a British colony there occurred to an Englishman named James Oglethorpe.
He was a truly great man, and in an age when men were cruel to each other out of mere thoughtlessness he tried to make people kinder to their fellows.
In those days in England people could be imprisoned for debt. And if they could not pay they remained in prison often for years, and sometimes till they died. They were starved and tortured, loaded with fetters, locked up in filthy dungeons, herded together with thieves and murderers, or those suffering from smallpox and other loathsome diseases. It was horrible, but no one troubled about it. There had always been misery in the world, there always would be, men thought, and no one had pity for prisoners.
But now young Oglethorpe had a friend who was imprisoned for debt, and, being treated in this horrible fashion, he died of smallpox. Oglethorpe's generous heart was grieved at the death of his friend, and he began to enquire into the causes of it. The things he discovered were so awful that he stood aghast with horror at the misery of the imprisoned debtors. And what was more he did not rest until he had made other people see the horror of it also. Soon there was an outcry all over England, and some of the worst evils were done away with.
Then the idea came to Oglethorpe that he would found a colony in America, where poor debtors who had regained their freedom might find a refuge and make a new start in life. He decided to found this colony to the south of South Carolina, so that it might not only be a refuge for the oppressed, but also form a buffer state between the Carolinas and Spanish Florida. So from George II Oglethorpe got a charter for the land lying between the Savannah and the Altamaha rivers, and in honour of the King the colony was called Georgia.
Many well-to-do people were by this time interested in his scheme. They gave him money for it, and he also got a large grant from Parliament. This was the first time that Parliament ever voted money to found a colony in America. Of all the thirteen colonies now founded Georgia alone received aid from the State.
Trustees were appointed to frame the laws, and a kind of proprietory government was created. The colonists were to be granted all the liberties of Englishmen, but they were not to be allowed to frame the laws or take any part in the government. After twenty-one years the rule of the trustees was to come to an end, and Georgia was to become a Crown Colony.
All these matters being arranged, men were sent round to visit the jails, and choose from among the prisoners those who were really good men and who through misfortune, rather than roguery, found themselves in prison. The Commissioners refused to take lazy or bad men, or those who, in going to Georgia, would leave wife or children in want at home. Besides poor debtors those who were being persecuted because of their religion in any European State were invited to come and find a refuge in Georgia. No slavery was to be allowed, and the sale of rum was forbidden throughout the whole colony. For Oglethorpe knew how the Redman loved "fire-water" and how bad it was for him, and he wanted the settlement of Georgia to be a blessing and not a curse to the Redman, as well as to the white man.
Soon far more people wanted to go than Oglethorpe could take. So crowds of poor wretches had to be turned away, bitterly disappointed that they could not go to this new land which, after their terrible sufferings, seemed to them a very paradise.
The preparations took some time, and it was about the middle of November, 1732, when at length the Anne hoisted her sails and turned her prow towards the west. There were about a hundred and twenty colonists on board with Oglethorpe as Governor, and it was nearly the end of January when the colonists landed on the southern shores of the Savannah and founded the town of the same name.
One of the first things Oglethorpe did was to make a treaty with the Indians, for he knew how greatly the peace and safety of the little colony depended on their friendship.
There were eight tribes of Creeks who claimed the land upon which Oglethorpe had settled. But before he allowed the colonists to land he himself went ashore and sought out the chieftain whose village was close to the spot he had chosen for his town. This chieftain was an old man of over ninety years, and at first he did not seem at all pleased at the idea of white men settling on his land. But Oglethorpe was kindly and friendly, he spoke gently to the old chief, and soon won his consent to the settlement, and a promise of friendship.
When then the colonists landed, instead of being greeted with a flight of arrows they were received with solemn ceremony, the braves coming down to the water's edge to greet them. First came the Medicine Man carrying in either hand a fan made of white feathers as signs of peace and friendship. Behind him followed the chieftain and his squaw, with twenty or thirty braves, who filled the air with wild yells of welcome.
When the Medicine Man reached Oglethorpe he paused, and dancing round him he swept him on every side with the white feather fans, chanting the while a tale of brave deeds. This done the chieftain next drew near, and in flowery words bade the White Chief and his followers welcome. Thus peacefully the settlement was begun.
But Oglethorpe wanted to be friends with the other tribes round, so he asked Tomo-chi-chi, the old chieftain, to invite them to a conference. And a few months later they all came. Oglethorpe received them in one of the new houses built by the settlers, and when they were all solemnly seated an old and very tall man stood up and made a long speech. He claimed for the Creeks all the land south of the Savannah.
"We are poor and ignorant," he said, "but the Great Spirit who gave the Pale-faces breath gave the Redmen breath also. But the Great Spirit who made us both has given more wisdom to the Pale-faces."
Then he spread his arms abroad and lengthened the sound of his words. "So we feel sure," he cried, "that the Great Spirit who lives in heaven and all around has sent you to teach us and our wives and children. Therefore we give you freely the land we do not use. That is my thought and not mine alone but the thought of all the eight nations of the Creeks. And in token thereof we bring you gifts of skins which is our wealth."
Then one by one the chief men of each nation rose up and laid a bundle of buck skins at Oglethorpe's feet.
In return Oglethorpe gave each of the chiefs a coat and hat trimmed with gold lace. Each of the braves likewise received some present. So a treaty of peace was signed, the Redmen promising to keep the good talk in their hearts as long as the sun shone, or water ran in the rivers. And so just and wise was Oglethorpe in all his dealings with the natives that in the early days of the settlement there were no wars with the natives.
Oglethorpe worked unceasingly for the good of the colony. He kept no state, but slept in a tent and ate the plainest of food, his every thought being given to the happiness of his people. And in return they loved him and called him father. If any one were sick he visited him, and when they quarreled they came to him to settle their disputes. Yet he kept strict discipline and allowed neither drinking nor swearing.
The work of the colony went on apace. About six weeks after the settlers landed some of the settlers from Charleston came to visit Oglethorpe, and they were astonished to find how quickly things had got on.
"It is surprising," one wrote, "to see how cheerfully the men work, considering they have not been bred to it. There are no idlers there. Even the boys and girls do their parts. There are four houses already up, but none finished. . . . He has ploughed up some land, part of which he has sowed with wheat. . . . He has two or three gardens, which he has sowed with divers sort of seeds. . . . He was palisading the town round. . . . In short he has done a vast deal of work for the time, and I think his name justly deserves to be immortalised."
But if Georgia had peace with the Indians it was far otherwise with the Spaniards. For the Spaniards were very angry with the British for daring to settle south of the Savannah. They vowed to root them out of America, and they set out to attack the little colony.
But Oglethorpe was a daring soldier as well as a wise statesman, and he succeeded in beating the Spaniards. It was at Frederica where the greatest battle took place. This town had been founded after Savannah and named Frederica, in honour of Frederick, Prince of Wales. It was built on an island off the coast called St. Simon, and, being near the Spanish border, it was well fortified. At the little village of St. Simon which was at the south end of the island, there were barricades and a high watch-tower where a constant watch was kept for ships. As soon as they were sighted a gun was fired, and a horseman sped off to the barracks with the news.
they attack the settlements, 1742 Here one day in July, 1742, a great fleet of Spanish vessels came sailing. They made a brave show with their high painted prows and shining sails, and they brought five thousand men who vowed to give no quarter.
Oglethorpe had but eight hundred men. Some were regular soldiers, some were fierce Highlanders glad to have a chance of a shot at the Spaniards, and not a few were friendly Indians. But small though his force was Oglethorpe did not despair. He had sent to Carolina for help which he was sure would come if he could but hold out for a few days. He thought, however, that the position at St. Simon was too dangerous. So he spiked his guns, destroyed all stores, and retreated to Frederica.
The Spaniards soon landed and, taking possession of St. Simon, set out to attack Frederica. But they found it no easy matter, for the town was surrounded by dense and pathless woods. And struggling through them the Spaniards stumbled into marshes, or got entangled in the dense undergrowth until in their weariness they declared that not the Evil One himself could force a passage through. Added to their other difficulties they were constantly harassed by scouting parties of wild Indians, and almost as wild Highlanders, sent out from Frederica by Oglethorpe.
But meanwhile no help appeared, and at length Oglethorpe, having discovered that the Spanish force was divided, decided to make a sortie and surprise one part of it. So with three hundred chosen men he marched out one dark night, and stole silently through the woods until he had almost reached the enemy's camp.
Then suddenly a Frenchman who was with the little British force discharged his musket, and fled towards the Spanish camp.
All hope of a surprise was at an end, and Oglethorpe returned hastily to the fort. But that the surprise had failed was not the worst. It was certain that the deserter would tell the Spaniards how weak the British were, and that thus heartened they would soon attack in force. Something, Oglethorpe decided, must be done to prevent that.
So he wrote a letter in French addressing it to the French deserter. This letter was written as if coming from a friend. It begged the Frenchman to tell the Spaniards that Frederica was in an utterly defenseless state, and to bring them on to an attack. Or if he could not persuade them to attack at least he must persuade them to remain three days longer at Fort Simon. For within that time two thousand men would arrive from Carolina and six British ships of war "which he doubted not would be able to give a good account of themselves to the Spanish invaders." Above all things the writer bade the Frenchman beware of saying anything about Admiral Vernon, the British admiral who was coming against St. Augustine. He ended by assuring him that the British King would not forget such good services, and that he should be richly rewarded.
This letter Oglethorpe gave to one of the Spanish prisoners they had taken, who for a small sum of money and his liberty, promised to deliver it to the French deserter. But instead of doing that he gave it, as Oglethorpe had expected he would, to the leader of the Spanish army.
The French deserter at once denied all knowledge of the letter or its writer, but all the same he was fettered and kept a prisoner while the Spanish leaders held a council of war. They knew not what to do. Some thought that the letter was a ruse (as indeed it was) merely meant to deceive them. But others thought that the British really had them in a trap. And while they were thus debating by good luck some British vessels appeared off the coast. And thinking them to be the men-of-war mentioned in the letter the Spaniards fled in such haste that although they had time to set fire to the barracks at St. Simon they left behind them a great cannon and large stores of food and ammunition.
Thus was the little colony saved from destruction.
By his brave stand and clever ruse Oglethorpe had saved not only Georgia but Carolina too. Yet South Carolina had cause for shame, for her Governor had paid no heed to Oglethorpe's call for help, and so far as he was concerned Georgia might have been wiped out. He indeed cared so little about it that when the governors of the other more northerly colonies wrote to Oglethorpe thanking and praising him he did not join with them. But much to his disgust, seeing their Governor so lax, some of the people of South Carolina themselves wrote to Oglethorpe to thank him.
"It was very certain," they wrote, "had the Spaniards succeeded in those attempts against your Excellency they would also have entirely destroyed us, laid our province waste and desolate, and filled our habitation with waste and slaughter. We are very sensible of the great protection and safety we have long enjoyed, by your Excellency being to the southwards of us, and keeping your armed sloops cruising on the coasts, which has secured our trade and fortunes more than all the ships of war ever stationed at Charleston. But more by your late resolution against the Spaniards when nothing could have saved us from utter ruin, next to the Providence of Almighty God, but your Excellency's singular conduct, and the bravery of the troops under your command. We think it our duty to pray God to protect your Excellency and send you success in all your undertakings."
But, although Oglethorpe had many friends, he had also enemies, some even within the colony he had done so much to serve. There were those within the colony who wanted rum and wanted slavery and said that it would never prosper until they were allowed. Oglethorpe, with all his might, opposed them, so they hated him. Others were discontented for far better reasons: because they had no share in the government, and because the land laws were bad.
Oglethorpe, too, had his own troubles, for he had spent so much on the colony that he was deeply in debt. So, having ruled for twelve years, he went home, and although be lived to a great old age, he never returned again to Georgia. At the age of fifty-five he married; then he settled down to the quiet life of an English gentleman. Learned men and fine ladies called him friend, poets sang of his deeds, and the great Samuel Johnson wanted to write his life.
"Heroic, romantic, and full of the old gallantry" to the end, he lived out his last days in the great manor house of an English village, and was laid to rest in the peaceful village church in 1785.
"But the Savannah repeats to the Altamaha the story of his virtues and of his valor, and the Atlantic publishes to the mountains the greatness of his fame, for all Georgia is his living, speaking monument."
Oglethorpe was the only one of all the founders of British colonies in America who lived to see their separation from the mother-country. But long ere that he had to see many changes in the settlement. For the colonists would not be contented without rum and slaves, and in 1749 both were allowed. A few years later the trustees gave up their claims and Georgia became a Crown Colony, and the people were given the right to vote and help to frame the laws under which they had to live.
PART V STORIES OF THE FRENCH IN AMERICA
Chapter 45 - How the Mississippi was Discovered
While the shores of the Atlantic from Nova Scotia to Georgia were being claimed and peopled by the British another and very different nation laid claim also to the mighty continent. Before Jamestown was founded the French had already set foot upon the St. Lawrence. Long before the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymouth the flag of France was floating from the citadel of Quebec; and the French laid claim to the whole of Canada.
But the French and the British claimed these new lands in very different ways. The Englishmen came seeking freedom and a new home. The Frenchmen came seeking adventure. The Englishman painfully felled trees and cleared land, toiling by the sweat of his brow for the comfort of a home. The Frenchman set up crosses on the edge of pathless forests, claiming unknown lands for God and his King. He came as missionary, trader and adventurer rather than as farmer. And, led on by zeal for religion or desire for adventure, he pushed his settlements far into the wilderness.
So, long years went by. All along the Atlantic coasts spread fertile fields and fair homesteads. The British were content to live on the lands which they had cleared and tilled, and no adventurer sought to know what lay beyond the blue mountain range which shut him from the West.
Far otherwise was it with the French. Priests and traders were both full of a desire for conquest and adventure. Many of them indeed were so driven by the roving spirit that they left the towns altogether and lived alone among the forests, tracking the wild animals, and only coming to towns to sell the skins and get provisions.
These trappers brought back with them many strange tales of the forests and unknown wilds. They spoke of the Mississippi or "great water" of which the Indians told marvelous tales. And at length it seemed to their hearers that this great water could be no other than the long sought passage to India and the East.
Many people, fired by these tales, went in search of this great water. In 1673 two priests named Marquette and Joliet were the first to discover it. For many miles they floated down the Mississippi. On either side stretched endless forests and plains of waving grass, haunts of wild animals and of the Indians, - almost as wild. On they went, past the mouth of the yellow Missouri, on still till they came to the river Arkansas. At last, sure that the great river went southward and not westward as they had supposed, they decided to return.
It had been easy enough floating down, but now they had to battle against the stream, and it was only after weeks of toil that they at length reached Canada again with their news.
When he heard their story another adventurer named Ren Robert Cavelier Sieur de la Salle became eager to make certain of their discovery, and follow the river all the way to its mouth.
With great care and trouble he made his arrangements. He thought it would be impossible to compass so great a journey by canoes, so he built a little ship which he called the Griffin. It was the first ship which had been seen by the Indians round Lake Erie, and in amazement and fear they came to stare at it. In their ignorant terror they would have destroyed it had not careful watch been kept.
From the very beginning of his expedition La Salle found many difficulties. But at length they all seemed to be overcome, and he set out with his friend, Henri de Tonty, and about forty men.
Tonty was a man of courage, as bold and enterprising as La Salle himself. He was, too, much feared by the Indians, who thought him a great Medicine Man. For while fighting in Europe he had had one hand shot off. But he had replaced it with an iron hand, which he always wore covered with a glove. The Indians did not know this, and once or twice when they had been troublesome he had brought them to order by knocking them down with this hand. Not knowing the secret of it they marvelled greatly at his strength, and, fearing him accordingly, called him Iron Hand.
One of La Salle's great difficulties was lack of money. So before leaving the great lakes he collected a quantity of furs. Then he sent back the Griffin and half his men, with orders to sell these furs, and return with supplies for the expedition as quickly as possible. With the rest of his men La Salle journeyed on to the head of Lake Michigan in canoes.
It was no easy journey, for storms swept the lake. The waves tossed their frail canoes hither and thither so that they were often in danger of drowning. They were harassed, too, by unfriendly Indians. At length, worn out by fatigue, starving with cold and hunger, they reached the appointed place to await the return of the Griffin.
But the Griffin never came. In vain La Salle scanned the grey waters. Day after day passed, and no white sail flecked the dreary expanse. The Griffin was never heard of more.
With a heavy heart La Salle at length gave up the weary watch, and decided to go on with such men and supplies as he had. But with every step fresh difficulties arose. La Salle had many enemies, and they did their best to hinder and hamper him. His own men were discontented and mutinous. They had no love for their leader, no enthusiasm for the expedition, and the hardships and dangers of the way made them sullen.
They were half starved and worn out with fatigue; all they wanted was to get back to a comfortable life. They were sick of the wilderness and its hardships. Added to this the Indians told them bloodcurdling tales of the terrors of the "Father of Waters." It was a raging torrent of whirlpools, they said, full of poisonous serpents and loathly monsters. Those who ventured on it would never return.
This was more than the men could face. They chose rather the possibility of death among the Indians and the wilderness to its certainty among such horrors, and some of them ran away.
Depressed by this desertion La Salle resolved to camp for the rest of the winter. So on the banks of the river Illinois he built a fort which he called Creve-Coeur, or Heart-break.
But La Salle's brave heart was not yet broken. And here he began to build a new ship in which to sail down the Mississippi. There was wood in plenty around, and the work was begun. But many things, such as sails and rigging, which were necessary for the ship, the wilderness could not supply. And, seeing no other way, La Salle resolved to go back to Fort Frontenac to get them, leaving Tonty meanwhile to look after the building of the ship.
It was March when La Salle set out on his tremendous walk of a thousand miles. With him he took a faithful Indians guide and four Frenchmen. And seldom have men endured a journey more terrible.
The spring sun was just beginning to thaw the ice and snow of winter, so that the prairies were turned to marshes into which the travelers sank knee deep. The forests were pathless thickets through which they had to force a way with axe and hatchet. As a pathway the rivers were useless to them, for the ice was so thin that it would not bear their weight. And later when it thawed and broke up they still could not use their canoes lest they should be shattered by the floating masses of ice.
All day long they toiled knee deep in mud and half-melted snow, laden with baggage, guns and ammunition. At night they lay down without shelter of any kind. They were often hungry, they suffered constantly both from cold and heat. For at noon the sun beat down upon them fiercely, and at night the frost was so bitter that the blankets in which they lay wrapped were frozen stiff.
The hardships of the journey were so tremendous that the marvel is that any one lived to tell of them. Indeed, one by one the men fell ill, and when at length after three months of pain and peril they arrived at their journey's end only La Salle had strength or courage left.
Here more bad news greeted La Salle, for he now heard that a ship sent out from France laden with supplies for him had been wrecked. But even this cruel stroke of fortune could not break his spirit. Once more he set about gathering supplies, and made ready to return to Fort Heart-break.
But worse was yet to come. La Salle was about to start when he received a letter from Tonty. From this he learned that soon after he had left nearly all his men had mutinied. They had rifled the stores and demolished the fort; then, throwing into the river everything they could not carry, had made off. Only three or four had remained faithful. With these Tony was now alone in the wilderness.
This staggering news only made La Salle more eager to set out, for he could not leave his brave friend thus helpless. So once more the toilsome journey was begun. But when Heart-break was reached, La Salle found no friend to welcome him. All around there was nothing but silence and desolation, and ghastly ash-strewn ruins. The unfinished ship, like some vast skeleton, huge and gaunt, alone bore witness that white men had once been there.
Still La Salle would not despair. He spent the winter making friends with the Indians and searching earnestly for some trace of Tonty. The winter was unusually severe, the whole land was covered with snow and both La Salle and some of his men became snow-blind for days. But at last with the melting of the snows light and joy came to him. The blindness passed, Tonty was found.
Once again the friends met. Each had a tale to tell, a tale of bitter disappointments and defeats. Yet in spite of all the blows of fortune Le Salle would not give in. Once more he set about making preparations for the expedition. But now he gave up the idea of building a ship, and decided to trust to canoes alone.
It was mid-winter when all was ready. The rivers were frozen hard. So, placing their canoes on sledges, the men dragged them over the ice. As they went southward and spring came on, the ice melted and would no longer bear them. The stream was soon filled with floating masses of broken ice, so they were obliged to land and wait until it had melted.
Then once more they set out. Every day now they drifted farther and farther into the heat of summer. The sun shone softly through the overhanging trees, the river banks were gay with flowers, and bright plumaged birds flashed through the sunlight. After the tortures of the past winters this green and fertile land seemed a very paradise. So on the adventurers passed where never white man had passed before; and at length they reached the mouth of the mighty river and stood upon the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.
And here, in 1682, while wondering savages looked on, this mere handful of white men claimed all the land through which they had passed for their King. The long silence of the wilderness was awakened for the first time by the sound of Latin chants. Guns were fired, and to the shouts of "God save the King," a pillar was set up.
Chapter 46 - King William's War and Queen Anne's War
At this time in Europe France and Britain were at war. When King William came to take possession of Britain, James II ran away to France. The King of France received him kindly, and soon declared war upon William. The war was fought not only in Europe but in America also, and it is known in America as King William's War, because William was King of Great Britain at the time. It was the beginning of a fierce struggle between British and French for possession of the vast continent of America - a struggle which was to last for seventy years; a struggle in which not only the white people but the Indians also took part, some fighting for the British, some for the French.
King William's War, 1690-1697 At this time Frontenac was Governor of Canada. He was one of the greatest nobles of France and lived surrounded with state and splendour. Proud and haughty and of a fiery temper, with white men he quarreled often, but he knew better than any other how to manage the Indians, and they feared him as they feared no white ruler who came before or after him. He would not allow the chiefs to call him brother as other governors had done. They were his children; to them he was the Great Father. Yet if need be he would paint his face, dress himself in Indian clothes, and, tomahawk in his hand, lead the war dance, yelling and leaping with the best of them.
King Louis now gave Frontenac orders to seize New York so that the French might have access to the Hudson River, and a port open all the year round and not frozen up for months at a time like Quebec.
So Frontenac made ready his forces. He gathered three armies and sent them by different ways to attack the British. But few of these forces were regular soldiers. Many of them were Indians, still more were coureurs de bois, wild bush-rangers who dressed and lived more like Indians than white men, and were as fearless, and lawless, and learned in the secrets of the forest as the Indians.
These armies set out in the depth of winter. French and Indian alike were smeared with war-paint and decked with feathers. Shod with snow shoes they sped over the snow, dragging light sledges behind them laden with food. For twenty-two days they journeyed over plains, through forest, across rivers, but at length one of the armies reached the village of Schenectady, the very farthest outpost of New York.
The people had been warned of their danger, but they paid no heed. They did not believe that the danger was real. So secure indeed did they feel that the gates were left wide open, and on either side for sentinels stood two snow men.
In all the village there was no sound, no light. Every one was sleeping peacefully. Then suddenly through the stillness there rang the awful Indian war whoop.
In terror the villagers leaped from their beds, but before they could seize their weapons they were struck down. Neither man, woman nor child was spared, and before the sun was high Schenectady was a smoking, blood-stained ruin.
The other parties which Frontenac had sent out also caused terrible havoc. They surprised and burned many villages and farms, slaughtering and carrying prisoner the inhabitants. Thus all New England was filled with bloodshed and terror.
But these horrors instead of making the British give in made them determined to attack Canada. New York and the colonies of New England joined together and decided to make an attack by land and by sea. The British determined to attack Canada
But what, with mismanagement, sickness, and bickerings among the various colonies, the land attack came to nothing. It was left for the fleet to conquer Canada.
The little New England fleet was commanded by Sir William Phips, a bluff, short-tempered sailor. He sailed up the St. Lawrence and anchored a little below Quebec.
Then the watching Frenchmen saw a small boat put off, flying a white flag. As it neared the shore some canoes went out to meet it and found that it was bringing a young British officer with a letter for Count Frontenac.
The officer was allowed to land, but first his eyes were blindfolded. Then as he stepped on shore a sailor seized each arm, and thus he was led through the streets.
Quebec is built on a height, and the streets are steep and narrow, sometimes being nothing more than flights of steps. And now, instead of being taken directly to the Governor, the young officer was dragged up and down these steep and stony streets. Now here, now there, he was led, stumbling blindly over stones and steps, and followed by a laughing, jeering crowd, who told him it was a game of blind man's bluff.
At last, thoroughly bewildered and exhausted, he was led into the castle, and the bandage was suddenly taken from his eyes. Confused and dazzled by the bright light he stood for a moment gazing stupidly about him.
Before him, haughty and defiant, stood Frontenac surrounded by his officers. Their splendid uniforms glittered with gold and silver lace, their wigs were curled and powdered, their hats were decked with feathers, as if for a ball rather than for war.
For a moment the young Englishman stood abashed before them. Then, recovering himself, he handed his commander's letters to Frontenac.
The letter was written in English, but an interpreter read it aloud, translating it into French. In haughty language it demanded the surrender of Quebec, in the name of William and Mary, within an hour.
When the reading was finished the officer pulled his watch out of his pocket, and held it towards Frontenac.
"I cannot see the time," said he.
"It is ten o'clock," replied the Englishman. "By eleven I must have your answer."
Frontenac's brow grew dark with anger. Hitherto he had held himself in check, but now his wrath burst forth.
"By heaven," he cried, "I will not keep you waiting so long. Tell your General that I do not acknowledge King William. The Prince of Orange who calls himself so is a usurper. I know of no king of England save King James."
The Englishman was quite taken aback by Frontenac's vehemence. He felt he could not go back to his leader with such an answer.
"Will you give me your answer in writing?" he said.
"No," thundered Frontenac, "I will answer your general with the mouths of my cannon only. Let him do his best, and I will do mine."
And with this answer the Englishman was forced to be content. Once more his eyes were blindfolded, and again he was jostled and hustled through the streets until he reached his boat.
When Phips received Frontenac's proud answer he prepared to attack. But he was no match for the fierce old lion of a Frenchman. The New Englanders were brave enough, but they had little discipline, and, worse still, they had no leader worthy of the name. They spent shot and shell uselessly battering the solid rock upon which Quebec is built. Their aim was bad, and their guns so small that even when the balls hit the mark they did little damage.
At length, having wasted most of their ammunition in a useless cannonade, the British sailed away. The men were dejected and gloomy at their failure. Many of their ships had been sorely disabled by the French guns, and on the way home several were wrecked. As the others struggled homeward with their tale of disaster, New England was filled with sadness and dismay.
The attack on Canada had been an utter failure. Yet, had Phips but known it, Quebec was almost in his grasp. For although there were men enough within the fortress there was little food. And even before he sailed away the pangs of hunger had made themselves felt.
For seven years more the war lingered on, but now it chiefly consisted of border raids and skirmishes, and the New Englanders formed no more designs of conquering Canada. And at length in 1697, with the Treaty of Ryswick, King William's War came to an end.
In 1701 James, the exiled King of Britain, died; and Louis of France recognised his son James as the rightful King of Britain. This made King William angry. Louis also placed his grandson, the Duke of Anjou, on the throne of Spain. This made King William and the British people still more angry. For with a French King on the throne of Spain they thought it very likely that France and Spain might one day be joined together and become too powerful. So King William again declared war on France, but before the war began he died.
Queen Mary's sister Anne now became Queen; she carried on the war already declared. This war brought fighting in America as well as in Europe. In America it is called Queen Anne's War, and in Europe the War of the Spanish Succession.
Queen Anne's War, 1702-1713 This war was carried on in much the same manner as the last. There were Indian massacres, sudden sallies, attacks by land and sea. But this time the British were more determined. And although another attack on Quebec failed, just as the attack made by Phips had failed, one on Nova Scotia succeeded.
In the South, too, the Spaniards were defeated at Charleston. Taken altogether the British had the best of the fighting. And when at length peace was made by the Treaty of Utrect in 1713 Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the Hudson Bay Territory were given up to the British. Thus both in west and north the British enclosed the French possessions.
Chapter 47 - The Mississippi Bubble
Being thus encroached upon by the British the French became more determined to shut them out from the south. Already twelve years after La Salle's death another attempt had been made to found a town at the mouth of the Mississippi, and this time the attempt was successful.
This time the expedition was led by Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville. In 1698 with two ships he sailed out from France and, after some trouble, found the mouth of the Mississippi. He did not, however, build his fort here, but on the coast of what is now the State of Mississippi. Then, leaving one of his officers and his brother in command, he sailed home again to France.
While d'Iberville was away, his brother Bienville started on an expedition to explore the Mississippi. And he soon discovered that the French had taken possession none too soon, for not far from where New Orleans now stands, he fell in with a British ship. On board were a lot of French Huguenot families who had come to found a settlement on the Mississippi. Bienville talked to the captain, who told him that this was one of three ships sent out from England by a company formed of Huguenots and Englishmen who intended to found a colony on the Mississippi. They were not sure, however, whether they were on the Mississippi or not.
Bienville at once assured them that they were not, but were instead on a river which belonged to Louis of France, where already the French had several settlements. The British captain believed what he was told and, much to the Frenchmen's delight, turned back. Just at the spot where this took place the river makes a bed, and because of this it was given the name of English Bend, by which name it is known to this day.
D'Iberville only stayed long enough in France to gather more colonists and returned at once to Louisiana, where he founded two more towns along the coast. But the colonists sent out by Louis were of the lowest. Many of them were little more than rogues and vagabonds. The mere off-scourings of the towns, they were idle and extravagant, and the colony did not prosper.
Instead of putting gold into Louis' pockets, as he had hoped, he had constantly to pour it out to maintain the colony. Of that Louis soon grew tired. Besides this he wanted all the money he could gather to carry on the war (Queen Anne's War), which was still raging. So, in 1712, he handed Louisiana over to a wealthy merchant named Crozat to make what he could out of it.
Such great power was given to this merchant that he was little less than a king. He had every monopoly. Nobody in the colony could buy or sell the smallest thing without his permission, and every one had to work for him and not for themselves. But the people were by no means willing workers. They were, said one of their priests, "nearly all drunkards, gamblers, blasphemers and foes of everything that was good," and when they found that they are expected to work merely to put money into the proprietor's pocket they would not work at all.
So very soon Crozat found he could make nothing out of the colony. And after some vain efforts to make it pay he gave up his charter, and Louisiana once more became a royal possession.
Meanwhile France itself was in sore straits for money. Louis XIV, that magnificent and extravagant monarch, had died and left his country beggared and in want. The Duke of Orleans now ruled as Regent for little Louis XV. He was at his wit's end to know where to find money, when a clever Scots adventurer names John Law came to him with a new and splendid idea. this was to use paper money instead of gold and silver. The Regent was greatly taken with the idea, and he gave Law leave to issue the paper money. It was quite a good idea had it been kept within bounds. But it was not kept within bounds. All France went mad with eagerness to get some of the paper money which was, they thought, going to make them rich forever.
Besides issuing paper money, Law started what was known as the Mississippi Scheme or Company of the Indies in 1717. Louisiana, which had been received back from Crozat, was handed over to John Law, who undertook to settle the country, and work the gold and silver mines which were supposed to be there.
Law began at once to fill all France with stories of Louisiana and its delights. Gold and silver mines, he said, had been discovered there which were so rich that they could never be used up. Lumps of gold lay about everywhere, and one might have them for the picking up. As for silver, it was so common that it had little value except to be used for paving the streets. In proof of these stories lumps of gold said to have come from Louisiana were shown in the shops of Paris.
As to the climate, it was the most perfect on earth. It was never too hot, and never too cold, but always warm and sunny. The soil was so fertile that one had but to scratch it to produce the finest crops. Delicious fruits grew everywhere, and might be gathered all the year round. The meadows were made beautiful, and the air scented, with the loveliest of flowers. In fact Louisiana was painted as an earthly paradise, where nothing the heart could desire was lacking.
People believed these stories. And, believing them, it was not wonderful that they desired to possess for themselves some of these delights. So, rich and poor, high and low, rushed to buy shares in the Company. The street in Paris where the offices of the Company were was choked from end to end with a struggling crowd. The rich brought their hundreds, the poor their scanty savings. Great lords and ladies sold their lands and houses in order to have money to buy more shares. The poor went ragged and hungry in order to scrape together a few pence. Peers and merchants, soldiers, priests, fine ladies, servants, statesmen, labourers, all jostled together, and fought to buy the magic paper which would make them rich and happy beyond belief. Fortunes were made and lost in a day. Some who had been rich found themselves penniless; others who had always lived in poverty found themselves suddenly rolling in wealth which they did not know how to use. And John Law was the wizard whose magic wand had created all these riches. He was flattered and courted by every one. The greatest princes in the land came to beg favours of him. They came to him to beg, and he treated them haughtily as beggars, and bade them wait.
Day by day, and month by month, the madness increased, and the gigantic bubble grew larger and larger. Bienville, meanwhile, who had been deprived of his governorship, was once more made Governor of Louisiana. With a company of settlers, he returned again to the colony in 1718, and he at once set about building a capital, which, in honour of the Regent, he called New Orleans. The place he chose for a capital was covered with forest. So before any building could be done fifty men were set to fell the trees and clear a space. And then the first foundations of the new great city of New Orleans were laid.
But still the colony did not prosper. For the colonists were for the most part rogues and vagabonds, sent there by force, and kept there equally by force. They looked upon Louisiana as a prison, and tried constantly to escape from it.
Meanwhile no ships laden with gold and gems reached France, for no gold mines had ever been discovered. Then people began to grow tired of waiting. Some of them began to suspect that all the stories of the splendours of Louisiana were not true, and they tried to sell their paper money and paper shares, and get back the gold which they had given for them. Soon every one wanted to sell, and no one wanted to buy. The value of the paper money fell and fell, until it was worth less than nothing. People who had thought themselves millionaires found themselves beggars. Law, who had been flattered and courted, was now hated and cursed. And in terror of his life he fled from France in 1790 to die miserably in Italy a few years later.
As to Louisiana, a new set of stories were told of it. Now it was no longer described as a sort of earthly paradise, but as a place of horror and misery. It was a land of noisome marsh and gloomy forest, where prowled every imaginable evil beast. At certain times of the year the river flooded the whole land, so that the people were obliged to take refuge in the trees. There they lived more like monkeys than men, springing from tree to tree in search of food. The sun was so hot that it could strike a man dead as if with a pistol. This was called sunstroke. Luscious fruits indeed grew around, but they were all poisonous and those who ate of them died in agonies. In fact Louisiana was now pictured as a place to be shunned, as a place of punishment. "Be good or I will send you to the Mississippi" was a threat terrible enough to make the naughtiest child obedient.
The Mississippi bubble burst, - but still France clung to Louisiana. Once again it became a royal province, and at length after long years of struggle it began to prosper. The French had thus two great centres of power in America, one at Quebec amid the pine trees and snows of the North, and one at New Orleans amid the palm trees and sunshine of the South. And between the two fort after fort was built, until gradually north and south were united. Thus La Salle's dream came true.
It was during the time of peace after the end of Queen Anne's War that the French had thus strengthened their hold on America and joined Canada and Louisiana. They had also built a strong fortress on the Island of Cape Breton which commanded the mouth of the St. Lawrence. This fortress was called Louisburg in honour of King Louis, and it was the strongest and best fortified in the whole of New France. The walls were solid and high, and bristled with more than a hundred cannon. The moat was both wide and deep. Indeed the French believe that this fort was so strong that no power on earth could take it.
But the days of peace sped fast. Soon once more Europe was ablaze with war, France and Britain again taking opposite sides. In Europe this war is called the War of the Austrian Succession, because it was brought on by a quarrel among the nations of Europe as to who should succeed to the throne of Austria. In America it is called King George's War, as King George II was King of Britain at the time.
Like the other wars before it, it was fought in America as well as in Europe. The chief event in America was the capture of Louisburg in 1745. That redoubtable fortress which it was thought would hold off any attack, yielded after six weeks to an army chiefly composed of New England farmers and fishermen, and led by Maine merchant who had no knowledge of war.
When the news that Louisburg was taken reached New England the people rejoiced. Bells were rung, cannons were fired and bonfires blazed in all the chief towns. In England itself the news was received with surprise and delight, and Pepperell, the merchant-soldier, was made a baronet and could henceforth call himself Sir William Pepperell.
But when the French heard that they had lost their splendid American fortress they were filled with dismay. One after another, three expeditions were sent to recapture it, but one after another they miscarried. And when at length, in 1748, peace was agreed upon, Louisburg was still in the hands of the New Englanders. The peace which was now signed is called the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. By it, it was agreed that each side should give back all its conquests, so that after all the terrible loss and bloodshed neither side was one whit the better.
The New Englanders had been greatly delighted at their conquest of Louisburg. The French, on the other hand, were greatly grieved, and when terms of peace were discussed Louis XV insisted that Louisburg should be restored. "That cannot be," said King George. "It is not mine to give, for it was taken by the people of Boston."
The French, however, were firm. So King George gave way, and Louisburg was restored to France, and Madras in India, which the French had taken, was in exchange restored to Britain. When the New Englanders heard of it, they were very angry. Madras was nothing to them; it was but a "petty factory" on the other side of the globe; while Louisburg was at their very doors, and of vast importance to their security. They had to obey and give it back. But they did so with bitterness in their hearts against a King who cared so little for their welfare.
Chapter 48 - How a Terrible Disaster Befell the British Army
We have now seen something of the great struggle between French and British for the continent of America. War after war broke out, peace after peace was signed. But each peace was no more than a truce, and even when the noise of cannon ceased there was nearly always war with the Redman, for he took sides and fought for French or British. And as years went past the struggle grew ever more and more bitter. If the French had their way, the British would have been hemmed in between the Alleghenies and the sea. If the British had had their way the French would have been confined to a little strip of land north of the St. Lawrence. It became plain at length to every one that in all the wide continent there was no room for both. One must go. But which?
The Peace at Aix-la-Chapelle was not a year old before the last, great struggle began. Both French and British had now cast their eyes on the valley of the Ohio, and the spot where Pittsburgh now stands became known as the Gateway of the West. The British determined to possess that gateway, but the French were just as determined to prevent them ever getting through it. So the French began to build a line of forts from Lake Erie southward to the gate of the west. Now, Virginia claimed all this land, and when two French forts had been built the Governor of Virginia began to be both alarmed and angry. He decided, therefore, to send a messenger to the French to tell them that they were on British ground, and bid them to be gone.
It was not an easy task, and one which had to be done with courtesy and firmness. Therefore Dinwiddie resolved to send a "person of distinction." So as his messenger he chose a young man named George Washington. He was a straightforward, tall young man, well used to a woodland life, but withal a gentleman, the descendant of one of the old Royalist families who had come to Virginia in the time of Cromwell, and just the very man for the Governor's purpose.
It was a long and toilsome journey through pathless forest, over hills, deep snows and frozen rivers, a journey which none but one skilled in forest lore could endure.
But at length after weeks of weary marching Washington arrived at Fort le Boeuf. The Frenchmen greeted him courteously, and entertained him in the most friendly fashion during the three days which the commander took to make up his answer. The answer was not very satisfactory. The commander promised to send Dinwiddie's letter to the Governor of Canada. "But meanwhile," he added, "my men and I will stay where we are. I have been commanded to take possession of the country, and I mean to do it to the best of my ability."
With this answer Washington set out again, and after many adventures and dangers arrived safely once more at Williamsburg.
In the spring the Frenchmen marched south to the Gateway of the West. Here they found a party of British, who had begun to build a fort. The French, who were in far greater numbers, surrounded them and bade them surrender. This the British did, being utterly unable to defend themselves. The French then seized the fort, leveled it to the ground, and began to build one of their own, which they called Fort Duquesne.
Upon this, Dinwiddie resolved to dislodge the French, and he sent a small force and when its leader died he took command. But he was not able to dislodge the French. So after some fighting he was obliged to make terms with the enemy and march home discomfited.
Up to this time the war was purely an American one. France and Britain were at peace, and neither country sent soldiers to help their colonies. It was the settlers, the farmers, fishermen and fur traders of New England and New France who fought each other.
And in this the French had one great advantage over the British. The French were united, the British were not. New France was like one great colony in which every man was ready to answer the call to battle.
The British were divided into thirteen colonies. Each one of the thirteen colonies was jealous of all the others; each was selfishly concerned with its own welfare and quite careless of the welfare of the others. But already the feelings of patriotism had been born. Among the many who cared nothing for union there were a few who did. There were some who were neither Virginians nor New Englanders, neither Georgians nor Carolinians, but Americans. These now felt that if they were not to become the vassals of France they must stand shoulder to shoulder.
A Congress of all the Northern Colonies was now called at Albany to discuss some means of defense. And at this Congress Benjamin Franklin proposed a plan of union. But the colonies would have nothing to say to it. Some took no notice of it at all, others treated it with scorn, or said it put too much power into the hands of the King. As to the King, when he heard of it he rejected it also, for, said he, it gave too much power to the colonies. So for the time being nothing came of it. Meanwhile the Governors of the various colonies wrote home to England, and, seeing how serious the matter was becoming, the British Government sent out two regiments of soldiers to help the colonies. They were about a thousand men in all, and were under the leadership of Major-General Edward Braddock.
As so as the French heard this they, too, sent soldiers to Canada. It was just like a game of "Catch who catch can." For as soon as the British knew that French troops were sailing to America they sent a squadron to stop them. But the French had got a start, and most of them got away. The British ships, however, overtook some which had lagged behind the others.
As soon as they were within hailing distance a red flag was suddenly run up to the masthead of the British flagship.
"Is this peace or war?" shouted the French captain.
"I don't know," answered the British, "But you had better prepare for war." He, however, gave the Frenchman little time to prepare, for the words were hardly out of his mouth before the thunder of cannon was heard.
The Frenchmen fought pluckily. But they were far outnumbered, and were soon forced to surrender.
Thus both on land and sea fighting had begun. Yet war had not been declared and King George and King Louis were still calling each other "dear cousin" or "dear brother," and making believe that there was no thought of war.
But the little success on sea was followed up by a bitter disaster on land.
General Braddock now commanded the whole army both home and colonial. He was a brave and honest man, but obstinate, fiery-tempered and narrow. He had a tremendous idea of what his own soldiers could do, and he was very scornful of the colonials. He was still more scornful of the Indians. "These savages," he said to Franklin, "may indeed be a formidable enemy to your raw American militia. But upon the King's regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible that they should make any impression."
The haughty savages were quick to see that he looked down upon them. "He looks upon us as dogs," they said, and drawing their ragged blankets about them they stalked off deeply offended. With the same narrow pride Braddock turned away another useful ally.
This was Captain Jack, the Black Hunter. He was a white man, but he roamed the woods dressed like an Indian, followed be a band of men as reckless and lawless as himself. The Black Hunter, however, although he dressed like an Indian, was the white man's friend, the Redman's deadly foe.
He had been at one time, it was said, a peaceful settler living happily with his wife and children. But one day he returned from hunting to find his cottage in ashes, and his wife and children dead among the ruins. In his grief and rage he vowed eternal vengeance on the Indians who had done the evil deed, robbing him for ever of home and happiness. Henceforth he roamed the woods a terror to the Redmen. For his aim was unerring, he could steal through the forest as silently and swiftly as they, and was as learned in all the woodland lore. His very name indeed struck terror to the hearts of all his foes.
Black Hunter now with his wild band of followers offered his help to Braddock. They were well armed, they cared neither for heat nor cold. they required no tents nor shelter for the night; not did they ask for any pay.
General Braddock looked at the gaunt weather-beaten man of the woods, clad in hunting shirt and moccasins, painted and bedecked with feathers like an Indian. Truly a strange ally, he thought. "I have experienced troops," he said, "on whom I can depend."
And finding that he could get no other answer Black Hunter and his men drew off, and disappeared into the woods whence they had come.
On the other hand Braddock had much to put up with. The whole success of the expedition depended on swiftness. The British must strike a blow before the French had time to arm. But when Braddock landed nothing was ready; there were no stores, no horses, no wagons. And it seemed impossible to gather them. Nobody seemed to care greatly whether the expedition set out or not. So, goaded to fury Braddock stamped and swore, and declared that nearly every one he had to do with was stupid or dishonest.
But at length the preparations were complete, and in June the expedition set out.
From the first things went wrong. Had Braddock gone through Pennsylvania he would have found a great part of his road cleared for him. But he went through Virginia, and had to hew his way through pathless forest.
In front of the army went three hundred axemen to cut down trees and clear a passage. Behind them the long baggage train jolted slowly onwards, now floundering axle deep through mud, now rocking perilously over stumps or stones. On either side threading in and out among the trees marched the soldiers. So day after day the many-coloured cavalcade wound along, bugle call and sound of drum awakening the forest silences.
The march was toilsome, and many of the men, unused to the hardships of the wilderness, fell ill, and the slow progress became slower still. At length Braddock decided to divide his force, and leaving the sick men and the heaviest baggage behind, press on more rapidly with the others. It was George Washington who went with him as an aide-de-camp who advised this.
So the sick and all baggage that could be done without were left behind with Colonel Dunbar. But even after this the progress was very slow.
Meanwhile news of the coming of the British army had been carried to the French at Fort Duquesne. And when they heard how great the force was, they were much alarmed. But a gallant Frenchman named Beaujeu offered to go out and meet the British, lie in wait for them and take them unawares. But to do this he had need of Indian help. So council fires were lit and Beaujeu flung down the war hatchet. But the Indians refused it, for they were afraid of the great British force.