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build forts.

the French

nies, because all that country belonged to the French King, CHAPTER and no Englishman had a right to trade with the Indians in the King's territory.

1753. In the mean time the British ministry, anticipating from Governor or the political aspect of affairs a rupture with France, de- ordered to spatched orders to the governor of Virginia to build two forts near the Ohio River, for the purpose of securing possession, driving off intruders, and retaining the alliance of the Indians, or holding them in check. Thirty pieces of light cannon and eighty barrels of powder were sent out from England for the use of the forts.

These orders came too late. Before they arrived, the Designs of governor of Canada had been diligently employed for a whole season in pushing forward troops across the Lakes, with munitions of war and other supplies, and a footing had already been gained in the heart of the disputed territory. Bodies of armed men had likewise ascended the Mississippi from New Orleans to act in concert, and established themselves on the southern waters of the Ohio. The object was to form a line of military posts from Louisiana to Canada, and thus confine the western limits of the English colonies within the Allegany Mountains. Thus far had the French advanced, before the British government began any active measures to counteract them.

A question here occurs, of much historical interest, but Questions as of too wide a compass to be discussed in this place. What of the French right had England or France to the territory in dispute ? the band's Although each party set up many pretensions, it would be Alleganies. difficult in reviewing them to strike the balance, because, when compared, it could not be shown, that even a plausible argument existed in favor of either side. England rested her claims on Indian treaties, and the French fortified theirs by still higher authority, the treaties of Ryswick, Utrecht, and Aix-la-Chapelle, and by the fact of prior discovery.

It was always the policy of the English to keep up a English good understanding with the Six Nations, a powerful confederacy bordering on Lake Ontario. By their position they

to the title

claim.

CHAPTER II.

The French make Encroachments on the Western Frontiers of Virginia.

Claims of the French and English to the Western Territory considered. -
Major Washington is sent by the Governor of Virginia to warn the Intru-
ders to retire. — Crosses the Allegany Mountains. — Meets Indians on the
Ohio River, who accompany him to the French Garrison. — Indian Speech.
- Interviews with the French Commander. — Perilous Adventures during
his Journey, and in crossing the Allegany River. — Returns to Williams-
burg and reports to the Governor. His Journal published.
pointed to the Command of Troops to repel the Invasion of the Frontiers.
Governor Dinwiddie.

He is ap

CHAPTER

II.

1753.

Encroach.
ments of the
French and
Indians.

The time was now at hand, when the higher destinies of Washington were to unfold themselves. Intelligence came from the frontiers, that the French had crossed the Lakes from Canada in force, and were about to establish posts and erect fortifications on the waters of the Ohio. It was rumored, also, that, alarmed for their safety, the friendly Indians were beginning to waver in their fidelity; and the hostile tribes, encouraged by the presence and support of the French, exhibited symptoms of open war. The crisis, in the opinion of Governor Dinwiddie and his Council, called for an immediate inquiry. A messenger had already been sent over the mountains, in the character of a trader, with presents of powder, lead, and guns for the Indians, instructed to ascertain their temper, penetrate their designs, and, above all, to trace out the artifices and movements of the French.

This messenger, either intimidated or deceived by the savages, executed his mission imperfectly. He went as far as the Ohio River, met some of the friendly sachems, delivered his presents, stayed a few days with them, and then returned. He brought back various reports concerning the French, narrated to him by the Indians, who had been in their camp at Lake Erie, and who magnified their strength and formidable appearance, telling him, that they took every Englishman prisoner, whom they found beyond the Allega

II.

build forts.

the French

nies, because all that country belonged to the French King, CHAPTER and no Englishman had a right to trade with the Indians in the King's territory.

1753. In the mean time the British ministry, anticipating from Governor of the political aspect of affairs a rupture with France, de- ordered to spatched orders to the governor of Virginia to build two forts near the Ohio River, for the purpose of securing possession, driving off intruders, and retaining the alliance of the Indians, or holding them in check. Thirty pieces of light cannon and eighty barrels of powder were sent out from England for the use of the forts.

These orders came too late. Before they arrived, the Designs of governor of Canada had been diligently employed for a whole season in pushing forward troops across the Lakes, with munitions of war and other supplies, and a footing had already been gained in the heart of the disputed territory. Bodies of armed men had likewise ascended the Mississippi from New Orleans to act in concert, and established themselves on the southern waters of the Ohio. The object was to form a line of military posts from Louisiana to Canada, and thus confine the western limits of the English colonies within the Allegany Mountains. Thus far had the French advanced, before the British government began any active measures to counteract them.

A question here occurs, of much historical interest, but Questions as of too wide a compass to be discussed in this place. What of the French right had England or France to the territory in dispute ? the land Although each party set up many pretensions, it would be Alleganies. difficult in reviewing them to strike the balance, because, when compared, it could not be shown, that even a plausible argument existed in favor of either side. England rested her claims on Indian treaties, and the French fortified theirs by still higher authority, the treaties of Ryswick, Utrecht, and Aix-la-Chapelle, and by the fact of prior discovery.

It was always the policy of the English to keep up a English good understanding with the Six Nations, a powerful confederacy bordering on Lake Ontario. By their position they

or English to

claim.

II.

French claim.

CHAPTER formed a barrier against the French in Canada; and, as

they had no good will towards their Indian neighbors on 1753. the other side of the Lakes, who adhered to the French,

was found practicable, by repeated presents and a good deal of management, to retain their friendship. These tribes pretended, that at some remote period they had conquered all the region west of the mountains, as far as the Mississippi River. On the strength of this assumption, they made treaties with the English, ceding to them the lands within that space, and confirming the title by such forms as were prescribed to them. This was the basis of the English claim. But the Indians dwelling on the lands, and whose ancestors from time immemorial had dwelt there, neither participated in these treaties nor assented to them. On the contrary, they declared themselves the only rightful owners, and denied the authority of the Six Nations to meddle in the matter.

The French insisted on the right of discovery and occupancy. Father Marquette, La Salle, and others, they said, had descended the Mississippi, and settlements had been made south of Lake Michigan and on the Illinois River, years before any Englishman had set his foot westward of the great mountains; and European treaties, in which England was a party, had repeatedly recognised the title of France to all her actual possessions in America. So far the ground was tenable. But a position was assumed, as a concomitant or consequence, of a more dubious character. The French maintained it to be an axiom in the law of nations, that the discovery of a river gave the discoverer a right to all the country watered by the streams flowing into it. Hence the passing of Father Marquette down the Mississippi in a canoe, invested his sovereign with a title to the immense valley bounded by the Appalachian Mountains on one side, and the Rocky Mountains on the other. However gravely such a hypothesis may be advanced, however ingeniously defended, its fallacy is too obvious to be pointed out.

II.

sessory of

From these hints it is clear, that neither of the contend- CHAPTER ing parties had any just claim to the lands, about which they were beginning to kindle the flames of war. They 1753. were both intruders upon the soil of the native occupants. The native Of these proprietors, it was not pretended, that any purchase the just poshad been made or attempted. It was not strange, that they the soil. should look with astonishment upon so singular a transaction, as that of two nations, in distant parts of the world unknown to them, entering into a quarrel about the right of seizing their property. When Mr. Gist went into that country, on a tour of observation for the Ohio Company, two sachems sent a messenger to ask him “where the Indians' lands lay, for the French claimed all the land on one side of the Ohio River, and the English on the other. This pertinent inquiry contains a forcible statement of the whole merits of the case, far outweighing all the treaties referred to, whether made in Europe or America.

Such were some of the original grounds of the contest, in Original which nearly all Europe was involved, and which terminat- the war. ed in severing from France the larger portion of her possessions on the western continent. The result is well known. The terms of the peace, so humiliating to the national pride of France, were endured no longer than till an opportunity offered of retaliation and recompense. This presented itself much sooner than could have been foreseen, in the war of the American revolution; and it may safely be said, that the first blow struck on the Ohio was the beginning of the series of events, which ended thirty years afterwards in establishing the independence of the English Colonies. We shall hence find Washington acting a prominent part in this great drama from its very commencement to its close, gaining strength and rising higher and higher at every stage, the defender of his country's cause, equal to all occasions, successful, and triumphant.

As a first step towards executing the orders of the min- Washington isters, Governor Dinwiddie resolved to send a commissioner cornmissionin due form, and invested with suitable powers, to confer French. with the officer commanding the French forces, and in

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