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CHAPTER quire by what authority he presumed to invade the King's
dominions, and what were his designs. The commission 1753. was delicate and hazardous, requiring discretion, ability,
experience in the modes of travelling in the woods, and a knowledge of Indian manners. These requisites were believed to be combined in Major Washington, and the important service was intrusted to him, although as yet
but twenty-one years old. His instruc- He was instructed to proceed without delay to the Ohio
River, convene some of the Indian chiefs at a place called Logstown, make known to them the objects of his visit, and, after having ascertained where the French were stationed, to request an escort of warriors to be his guides and safeguard the rest of the journey. When arrived at the principal French post, he was to present his credentials and a letter from the governor of Virginia to the commandant, and in the name of his Britannic Majesty to demand an answer. He was furthermore to inquire diligently, and by cautious means, into the number of the French troops that had crossed the Lakes, the reinforcements expected from Canada, how many forts they had erected and at what places, how they were garrisoned and appointed, and their distances from each other; and, in short, to procure all the intelligence possible respecting the
condition and objects of the intruders. Ilis depar- Fortified with written instructions to this effect, with
credentials and a passport to which the great seal of the colony was affixed, he departed from Williamsburg, the seat of government in Virginia, on the 31st of October, 1753. The distance before him to the extreme point of his destination, by the route he would pursue, was about five hundred and sixty miles, in great part over lofty and rugged mountains, and more than half of the way through the heart of a wilderness, where no traces of civilization as yet appeared.
Passing through the towns of Fredericksburg, Alexandria, and Winchester, he arrived at Will's Creek in fourteen days. John Davidson had joined him as Indian interpre
ter; and Jacob Vanbraam, a Dutchman by birth, and for- CHAPTER merly an officer in the army, was employed to assist in his intercourse with the French, being acquainted with
1753. their language. At Will's Creek he found Mr. Gist, a person long accustomed to the woods, having several times penetrated far into the interior, and lately begun a settlement in the valley between the last ridge of the Alleganies and the Monongahela River. Mr. Gist consented to go with him as a guide. Four other men, two of them Indian traders, were added as attendants. The party was now increased to eight persons.
With Crosses the horses, tents, baggage, and provisions, suited to the expe- Mountains. dition, they left the extreme verge of civilization at Will's Creek, and entered the forests. The inclemency of the season, the Alleganies covered with snow and the valleys flooded by the swelling waters, the rough passages over the mountains and the difficulties in crossing the streams by frail rafts, fording, or swimming, were obstacles that could be overcome but slowly and with patience. They at length reached the Fork of the Ohio, where the Monongahela and Allegany unite to form that river. The place was critically examined by Major Washington, and he was impressed with the advantages it afforded as a military post, both for defence and a depository of supplies, in case of hostilities in that quarter ; and it was by his advice, that a fortification was shortly afterwards begun there, which became celebrated in two wars.
Hastening onward to Logstown, about twenty miles be- Meets the low the Fork, he called together some of the Indian chiefs, Logstown. and delivered to them the governor's message, soliciting a guard to the French encampments. The principal sachem was Tanacharison, otherwise called the Half-King. He was friendly to the English, or rather he was unfriendly to the French; not that he loved one more than the other, but he valued his rights and independence. In the simplicity of his heart, he supposed the English sought only an intercourse of trade, an exchange of arms, powder, and goods, for skins and furs, which would be beneficial to
CHAPTER the Indians. When the French came with arms in their
hands, took possession of the country, and built forts, his 1753. suspicions were awakened, and he saw no other method
of defeating their designs, than by adhering to the English. Tanacharison, as a deputy from several tribes, had been to the head-quarters of the French commandant, and made a speech to him, the substance of which he related to Major Washington.
Fathers,” said he, “ I am come to tell you your own speeches; what your own mouths have declared. Fathers, you in former days set a silver basin before us, wherein there was the leg of a beaver, and desired all the nations to come and eat of it, to eat in peace and plenty, and not to be churlish to one another; and that if any such person should be found to be a disturber, I here lay down by the edge of the dish a rod, which you must scourge them with ; and if your father should get foolish, in my old days, I desire you may use it upon me as well as others.
Now, fathers, it is you who are the disturbers in this land, by coming and building your towns, and taking it away unknown to us, and by force.
“ Fathers, we kindled a fire a long time ago, at a place called Montreal, where we desired you to stay, and not to come and intrude upon our land. I now desire you may despatch to that place ; for be it known to you, fathers, that this is our land and not yours.
“Fathers, I desire you may hear me in civilness ; if not, we must handle that rod which was laid down for the use of the obstreperous. If you had come in a peaceable manner, like our brothers the English, we would not have been against your trading with us as they do ; but to come, fathers, and build houses upon our land, and to take it by force, is what we cannot submit to.
" Fathers, both you and the English are white; we live in a country between; therefore, the land belongs to neither one nor the other. But the Great Being above allowed it to be a place of residence for us ; so, fathers,
I desire you to withdraw, as I have done our brothers the CHAPTER English ; for I will keep you at arm's length. I lay this down as a trial for both, to see which will have the great- 1753. est regard to it, and that side we will stand by, and make equal sharers with us. Our brothers, the English, have heard this, and I come now to tell it to you; for I am : not afraid to discharge you off this land." *
These are the sentiments of a patriot and a hero, but the highminded savage was not aware, that, as far as he and his race were concerned, there was no difference between his professed friends and open enemies. He had never studied in the school of politics, which finds an excuse for rapacity and injustice in the law of nations, nor learned that it was the prerogative of civilization to prey upon the ignorant and the defenceless.
The sachems at length met in council, and Major Wash- Indian ington addressed to them a speech, explaining the objects promised. of his mission, and the wishes of the governor. He then
* At a conference held at Carlisle, in Pennsylvania, October, 1753, between deputies from the government of that province, of whom Franklin was one, and others from the western Indians, it appeared that two messages had been sent to the French before the above speech. Monacatoocha, otherwise called Scarrooyady, who was the principal speaker, said, that when the Indians heard of the approach of the French from Canada, a council was held at Logstown, and they despatched a messenger, who met them at the Niagara River, and warned them in a formal manner not to advance any farther. This had no effect. Again, as soon as it was known that the French had entered the Ohio country, a second messenger met them near Venango, who complained of their coming with an armed force into the country, without first explaining their object and motives to the Indians. A haughty answer was returned, and Tanacharison was then sent to the French fort with the last warning. Monacatoocha recited the speech, which Tanacharison was instructed to make, and it is recorded in the Minutes of the Conference. It is remarkable that it agrees very exactly, both in its substance and figurative language, with the speech as related to Major Washington at Logstown, thus affording a proof of the precision with which the Indians transacted affairs of this sort, and of the retentiveness of their memory. Monacatoocha gave as
a reason for their manner of proceeding, that the Great Being, who resides above, had ordered them to send three messages of peace before they made war.
Journey to the French fort.
CHAPTER gave them a string of wampum, the Indian token of friend
ship and alliance. They consulted together, and deputed 1753.
Tanacharison to reply in the name of the whole. His language was pacific, and the escort was promised ; but, the young warriors being out on a hunting party, three or four days were consumed in waiting for their return. As his business was pressing, Major Washington could delay no longer, and he finally set off, accompanied by four Indians only, Tanacharison being of the number.
The distance to the station of the French commandant was one hundred and twenty miles. The journey was performed without any important incident, except at Venango, one of the French outposts, where various stratagems were used to detain the Indians. He was civilly treated, however, by Captain Joncaire, the principal officer, who told him where the head-quarters were established. Rain and snow fell continually, and, after incredible toils from exposure and the badness of the travelling through an illimitable forest, intersected with deep streams and morasses, he was rejoiced to find himself at the end of his journey, forty-one days from the time he left Williamsburg.
M. de St. Pierre, the commandant, was an elderly perFrench com- son, a knight of the military order of St. Louis, and cour
teous in his manners. At the first interview he promised immediate attention to the letter from Governor Dinwiddie, and everything was provided for the convenience and comfort of Major Washington and his party while they remained at the fort. At the next meeting the commission and letter were produced, read, translated, and deliberately explained. The commandant counselled with his officers, and in two days an answer was returned.
The governor's letter asserted, that the lands on the Ohio belonged to the crown of Great Britain, expressed surprise at the encroachments of the French, demanded by whose authority an armed force had crossed the Lakes, and urged a speedy and peaceful departure. M. de St. Pierre replied in the style of a soldier, saying it did not
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