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1749-1752 Céloron de Bienville

When the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed, the Marquis de la Galissonière ruled over Canada. Like all the later Canadian governors, he was a naval officer; and, a few years after, he made himself famous by a victory, near Minorca, over the English admiral Byng,--an achievement now remembered chiefly by the fate of the defeated commander, judicially murdered as the scapegoat of an imbecile ministry. Galissonière was a humpback; but his deformed person was animated by a bold spirit and a strong and penetrating intellect. He was the chief representative of the American policy of France.

He felt that, cost what it might, she must hold fast to Canada, and link her to Louisiana by chains of forts strong enough to hold back the British colonies, and cramp their growth by confinement within narrow limits; while French settlers, sent from the mother-country, should spread and multiply in the broad valleys of the interior. It is true, he said, that Canada and her dependencies have always been a burden; but they are necessary as a barrier against English ambition; and to abandon them is to abandon ourselves; for if we suffer our enemies to become masters in America, their trade and naval power will grow to vast proportions, and they will draw from their colonies a wealth that will make them preponderant in Europe.[2]

[Footnote 2: La Galissonière, _Mémoire sur les Colonies de la France dans l'Amêrique septentrionale_.]

The treaty had done nothing to settle the vexed question of boundaries between France and her rival. It had but staved off the inevitable conflict. Meanwhile, the English traders were crossing the mountains from Pennsylvania and Virginia, poaching on the domain which France claimed as hers, ruining the French fur-trade, seducing the Indian allies of Canada, and stirring them up against her. Worse still, English land speculators were beginning to follow. Something must be done, and that promptly, to drive back the intruders, and vindicate French rights in the valley of the Ohio. To this end the Governor sent Céloron de Bienville thither in the summer of 1749.

He was a chevalier de St. Louis and a captain in the colony troops. Under him went fourteen officers and cadets, twenty soldiers, a hundred and eighty Canadians, and a band of Indians, all in twenty-three birch-bark canoes. They left La Chine on the fifteenth of June, and pushed up the rapids of the St. Lawrence, losing a man and damaging several canoes on the way. Ten days brought them to the mouth of the Oswegatchie, where Ogdensburg now stands. Here they found a Sulpitian priest, Abbé Piquet, busy at building a fort, and lodging for the present under a shed of bark like an Indian. This enterprising father, ostensibly a missionary, was in reality a zealous political agent, bent on winning over the red allies of the English, retrieving French prestige, and restoring French trade. Thus far he had attracted but two Iroquois to his new establishment; and these he lent to Céloron.

Reaching Lake Ontario, the party stopped for a time at the French fort of Frontenac, but avoided the rival English post of Oswego, on the southern shore, where a trade in beaver skins, disastrous to French interests, was carried on, and whither many tribes, once faithful to Canada, now made resort. On the sixth of July Céloron reached Niagara. This, the most important pass of all the western wilderness, was guarded by a small fort of palisades on the point where the river joins the lake. Thence, the party carried their canoes over the portage road by the cataract, and launched them upon Lake Erie. On the fifteenth they landed on the lonely shore where the town of Portland now stands; and for the next seven days were busied in shouldering canoes and baggage up and down the steep hills, through the dense forest of beech, oak, ash, and elm, to the waters of Chautauqua Lake, eight or nine miles distant. Here they embarked again, steering southward over the sunny waters, in the stillness and solitude of the leafy hills, till they came to the outlet, and glided down the peaceful current in the shade of the tall forests that overarched it. This prosperity was short. The stream was low, in spite of heavy rains that had drenched them on the carrying place. Father Bonnecamp, chaplain of the expedition, wrote, in his Journal: "In some places--and they were but too frequent--the water was only two or three inches deep; and we were reduced to the sad necessity of dragging our canoes over the sharp pebbles, which, with all our care and precaution, stripped off large slivers of the bark. At last, tired and worn, and almost in despair of ever seeing La Belle Rivière, we entered it at noon of the 29th." The part of the Ohio, or "La Belle Rivière," which they had thus happily reached, is now called the Alleghany. The Great West lay outspread before them, a realm of wild and waste fertility.

French America had two heads,--one among the snows of Canada, and one among the canebrakes of Louisiana; one communicating with the world through the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the other through the Gulf of Mexico. These vital points were feebly connected by a chain of military posts,--slender, and often interrupted,--circling through the wilderness nearly three thousand miles. Midway between Canada and Louisiana lay the valley of the Ohio. If the English should seize it, they would sever the chain of posts, and cut French America asunder. If the French held it, and entrenched themselves well along its eastern limits, they would shut their rivals between the Alleghanies and the sea, control all the tribes of the West, and turn them, in case of war, against the English borders,--a frightful and insupportable scourge.

The Indian population of the Ohio and its northern tributaries was relatively considerable. The upper or eastern half of the valley was occupied by mingled hordes of Delawares, Shawanoes, Wyandots, and Iroquois, or Indians of the Five Nations, who had migrated thither from their ancestral abodes within the present limits of the State of New York, and who were called Mingoes by the English traders. Along with them were a few wandering Abenakis, Nipissings, and Ottawas. Farther west, on the waters of the Miami, the Wabash, and other neighboring streams, was the seat of a confederacy formed of the various bands of the Miamis and their kindred or affiliated tribes. Still farther west, towards the Mississippi, were the remnants of the Illinois.

France had done but little to make good her claims to this grand domain. East of the Miami she had no military post whatever. Westward, on the Maumee, there was a small wooden fort, another on the St. Joseph, and two on the Wabash. On the meadows of the Mississippi, in the Illinois country, stood Fort Chartres,--a much stronger work, and one of the chief links of the chain that connected Quebec with New Orleans. Its four stone bastions were impregnable to musketry; and, here in the depths of the wilderness, there was no fear that cannon would be brought against it. It was the centre and citadel of a curious little forest settlement, the only vestige of civilization through all this region. At Kaskaskia, extended along the borders of the stream, were seventy or eighty French houses; thirty or forty at Cahokia, opposite the site of St. Louis; and a few more at the intervening hamlets of St. Philippe and Prairie à  la Roche,--a picturesque but thriftless population, mixed with Indians, totally ignorant, busied partly with the fur-trade, and partly with the raising of corn for the market of New Orleans. They communicated with it by means of a sort of row galley, of eighteen or twenty oars, which made the voyage twice a year, and usually spent ten weeks on the return up the river.[3]

[Footnote 3: Gordon, _Journal_, 1766, appended to Pownall, _Topographical Description_. In the Dépôt des Cartes de la Marine at Paris, C. 4,040, are two curious maps of the Illinois colony, made a little after the middle of the century. In 1753 the Marquis Duquesne denounced the colonists as debauched and lazy.]

The Pope and the Bourbons had claimed this wilderness for seventy years, and had done scarcely more for it than the Indians, its natural owners. Of the western tribes, even of those living at the French posts, the Hurons or Wyandots alone were Christian.[4] The devoted zeal of the early missionaries and the politic efforts of their successors had failed alike. The savages of the Ohio and the Mississippi, instead of being tied to France by the mild bonds of the faith, were now in a state which the French called defection or revolt; that is, they received and welcomed the English traders.

[Footnote 4: "De toutes les nations domiciliées dans les postes des pays d'en haut, il n'y a que les hurons du détroit qui aient embrassé la Réligion chretienne." _Mémoirs du Roy pour servir d'instruction au S'r. Marqius de Lajonquière_.]

These traders came in part from Virginia, but chiefly from Pennsylvania. Dinwiddie, governor of Virginia, says of them: "They appear to me to be in general a set of abandoned wretches;" and Hamilton, governor of Pennsylvania, replies: "I concur with you in opinion that they are a very licentious people.[5] Indian traders, of whatever nation, are rarely models of virtue; and these, without doubt, were rough and lawless men, with abundant blackguardism and few scruples. Not all of them, however, are to be thus qualified. Some were of a better stamp; among whom were Christopher Gist, William Trent, and George Croghan. These and other chief traders hired men on the frontiers, crossed the Alleghanies with goods packed on the backs of horses, descended into the valley of the Ohio, and journeyed from stream to stream and village to village along the Indian trails, with which all this wilderness was seamed, and which the traders widened to make them practicable. More rarely, they carried their goods on horses to the upper waters of the Ohio, and embarked them in large wooden canoes, in which they descended the main river, and ascended such of its numerous tributaries as were navigable. They were bold and enterprising; and French writers, with alarm and indignation, declare that some of them had crossed the Mississippi and traded with the distant Osages. It is said that about three hundred of them came over the mountains every year.

[Footnote 5: _Dinwiddie to Hamilton, 21 May, 1753. Hamilton to Dinwiddie,--May, 1753._]

On reaching the Alleghany, Céleron de Bienville entered upon the work assigned him, and began by taking possession of the country. The men were drawn up in order; Louis XV. was proclaimed lord of all that region, the arms of France, stamped on a sheet of tin, were nailed to a tree, a plate of lead was buried at its foot, and the notary of the expedition drew up a formal act of the whole proceeding. The leaden plate was inscribed as follows: "Year 1749, in the reign of Louis Fifteenth, King of France. We, Céleron, commanding the detachment sent by the Marquis de la Galissonière, commander-general of New France, to restore tranquillity in certain villages of these cantons, have buried this plate at the confluence of the Ohio and the Kanaouagon _[Conewango],_ this 29th July, as a token of renewal of possession heretofore taken of the aforesaid River Ohio, of all streams that fall into it, and all lands on both sides to the source of the aforesaid streams, as the preceding Kings of France have enjoyed or ought to have enjoyed it, and which they have upheld by force of arms and by treaties, notably by those of Ryswick, Utrecht, and Aix-la-Chapelle."

This done, the party proceeded on its way, moving downward with the current, and passing from time to time rough openings in the forest, with clusters of Indian wigwams, the inmates of which showed a strong inclination to run off at their approach. To prevent this, Chabert de Joncaire was sent in advance, as a messenger of peace. He was himself half Indian, being the son of a French officer and a Seneca squaw, speaking fluently his maternal tongue, and, like his father, holding an important place in all dealings between the French and the tribes who spoke dialects of the Iroquois. On this occasion his success was not complete. It needed all his art to prevent the alarmed savages from taking to the woods. Sometimes, however, Céloron succeeded in gaining an audience; and at a village of Senecas called La Paille Coupée he read them a message from La Galissonière couched in terms sufficiently imperative: "My children, since I was at war with the English, I have learned that they have seduced you; and not content with corrupting your hearts, have taken advantage of my absence to invade lands which are not theirs, but mine; and therefore I have resolved to send you Monsieur de Céloron to tell you my intentions, which are that I will not endure the English on my land. Listen to me, children; mark well the word that I send you; follow my advice, and the sky will always be calm and clear over your villages. I expect from you an answer worthy of true children." And he urged them to stop all trade with the intruders, and send them back to whence they came. They promised compliance; "and," says the chaplain, Bonnecamp, "we should all have been satisfied if we had thought them sincere; but nobody doubted that fear had extorted their answer."

Four leagues below French Creek, by a rock scratched with Indian hieroglyphics, they buried another leaden plate. Three days after, they reached the Delaware village of Attiqué, at the site of Kittanning, whose twenty-two wigwams were all empty, the owners having fled. A little farther on, at an old abandoned village of Shawanoes, they found six English traders, whom they warned to begone, and return no more at their peril. Being helpless to resist, the traders pretended obedience; and Céloron charged them with a letter to the Governor of Pennsylvania, in which he declared that he was "greatly surprised" to find Englishmen trespassing on the domain of France. "I know," concluded the letter, "that our Commandant-General would be very sorry to be forced to use violence; but his orders are precise, to leave no foreign traders within the limits of his government."[6]

[Footnote 6: Céloron, _Journal_. Compare the letter as translated in _N.Y. Col. Docs_., VI. 532; also _Colonial Records of Pa_., V. 325.]

On the next day they reached a village of Iroquois under a female chief, called Queen Alequippa by the English, to whom she was devoted. Both Queen and subjects had fled; but among the deserted wigwams were six more Englishmen, whom Céloron warned off like the others, and who, like them, pretended to obey. At a neighboring town they found only two withered ancients, male and female, whose united ages, in the judgment of the chaplain, were full two centuries. They passed the site of the future Pittsburg; and some seventeen miles below approached Chininguée, called Logstown by the English, one of the chief places on the river.[7] Both English and French flags were flying over the town, and the inhabitants, lining the shore, greeted their visitors with a salute of musketry,--not wholly welcome, as the guns were charged will ball. Céloron threatened to fire on them if they did not cease. The French climbed the steep bank, and encamped on the plateau above, betwixt the forest and the village, which consisted of some fifty cabins and wigwams, grouped in picturesque squalor, and tenanted by a mixed population, chiefly of Delawares, Shawanoes, and Mingoes. Here, too, were gathered many fugitives from the deserted towns above. Céloron feared a night attack. The camp was encircled by a ring of sentries; the officers walked the rounds till morning; a part of the men were kept under arms, and the rest ordered to sleep in their clothes. Joncaire discovered through some women of his acquaintance that an attack was intended. Whatever the danger may have been, the precautions of the French averted it; and instead of a battle, there was a council. Céloron delivered to the assembled chiefs a message from the Governor more conciliatory than the former, "Through the love I bear you, my children, I send you Monsieur de Céloron to open your eyes to the designs of the English against your lands. The establishments they mean to make, and of which you are certainly ignorant, tend to your complete ruin. They hide from you their plans, which are to settle here and drive you away, if I let them. As a good father who tenderly loves his children, and though far away from them bears them always in his heart, I must warn you of the danger that threatens you. The English intend to rob you of your country; and that they may succeed, they begin by corrupting your minds. As they mean to seize the Ohio, which belongs to me, I send to warn them to retire."

[Footnote 7: There was another Chiningué, the Shenango of the English, on the Alleghany.]

The reply of the chiefs, though sufficiently humble, was not all that could be wished. They begged that the intruders might stay a little longer, since the goods they brought were necessary to them. It was in fact, these goods, cheap, excellent, and abundant as they were, which formed the only true bond between the English and the Western tribes. Logstown was one of the chief resorts of the English traders; and at this moment there were ten of them in the place. Céloron warned them off. "They agreed," says the chaplain, "to all that was demanded, well resolved, no doubt, to do the contrary as soon as our backs were turned."

Having distributed gifts among the Indians, the French proceeded on their way, and at or near the mouth of Wheeling Creek buried another plate of lead. They repeated the same ceremony at the mouth of the Muskingum. Here, half a century later, when this region belonged to the United States, a party of boys, bathing in the river, saw the plate protruding from the bank where the freshets had laid it bare, knocked it down with a long stick, melted half of it into bullets, and gave what remained to a neighbor from Marietta, who, hearing of this mysterious relic, inscribed in an unknown tongue, came to rescue it from their hands.[8] It is now in the cabinet of the American Antiquarian Society.[9] On the eighteenth of August, Céloron buried yet another plate, at the mouth of the Great Kenawha. This, too, in the course of a century, was unearthed by the floods, and was found in 1846 by a boy at play, by the edge of the water.[10] The inscriptions on all these plates were much alike, with variations of date and place.

[Footnote 8: O.H. Marshall, in _Magazine of American History, March,_ 1878.]

[Footnote 9: For papers relating to it, see _Trans. Amer. Antiq. Soc_., II.]

[Footnote 10: For a facsimile of the inscription on this plate, see _Olden Time,_ I. 288. Céloron calls the Kenawha, _Chinodahichetha_. The inscriptions as given in his Journal correspond with those on the plates discovered.]

The weather was by turns rainy and hot; and the men, tired and famished, were fast falling ill. On the twenty-second they approached Scioto, called by the French St. Yotoc, or Sinioto, a large Shawanoe town at the mouth of the river which bears the same name. Greatly doubting what welcome awaited them, they filled their powderhorns and prepared for the worst. Joncaire was sent forward to propitiate the inhabitants; but they shot bullets through the flag that he carried, and surrounded him, yelling and brandishing their knives. Some were for killing him at once; others for burning him alive. The interposition of a friendly Iroquois saved him; and at length they let him go. Céloron was very uneasy at the reception of his messenger. "I knew," he writes, "the weakness of my party, two thirds of which were young men who had never left home before, and would all have run at the sight of ten Indians. Still, there was nothing for me but to keep on; for I was short of provisions, my canoes were badly damaged, and I had no pitch or bark to mend them. So I embarked again, ready for whatever might happen. I had good officers, and about fifty men who could be trusted."

As they neared the town, the Indians swarmed to the shore, and began the usual salute of musketry. "They fired," says Céloron, "full a thousand shots; for the English give them powder for nothing." He prudently pitched his camp on the farther side of the river, posted guards, and kept close watch. Each party distrusted and feared the other. At length, after much ado, many debates, and some threatening movements on the part of the alarmed and excited Indians, a council took place at the tent of the French commander; the chiefs apologized for the rough treatment of Joncaire, and Céloron replied with a rebuke, which would doubtless have been less mild, had he felt himself stronger. He gave them also a message from the Governor, modified, apparently, to suit the circumstances; for while warning them of the wiles of the English, it gave no hint that the King of France claimed mastery of their lands. Their answer was vague and unsatisfactory. It was plain that they were bound to the enemy by interest, if not by sympathy. A party of English traders were living in the place; and Céloron summoned them to withdraw, on pain of what might ensue. "My instructions," he says, "enjoined me to do this, and even to pillage the English; but I was not strong enough; and as these traders were established in the village and well supported by the Indians, the attempt would have failed, and put the French to shame." The assembled chiefs having been regaled with a cup of brandy each,--the only part of the proceeding which seemed to please them,--Céloron reimbarked, and continued his voyage.

On the thirtieth they reached the Great Miami, called by the French, Rivière à  la Roche; and here Céloron buried the last of his leaden plates. They now bade farewell to the Ohio, or, in the words of the chaplain, to "La Belle Rivière,--that river so little known to the French, and unfortunately too well known to the English." He speaks of the multitude of Indian villages on its shores, and still more on its northern branches. "Each, great or small, has one or more English traders, and each of these has hired men to carry his furs. Behold, then, the English well advanced upon our lands, and, what is worse, under the protection of a crowd of savages whom they have drawn over to them, and whose number increases daily."

The course of the party lay up the Miami; and they toiled thirteen days against the shallow current before they reached a village of the Miami Indians, lately built at the mouth of the rivulet now called Loramie Creek. Over it ruled a chief to whom the French had given the singular name of La Demoiselle, but whom the English, whose fast friend he was, called Old Britain. The English traders who lived here had prudently withdrawn, leaving only two hired men in the place. The object of Cèloron was to induce the Demoiselle and his band to leave this new abode and return to their old villages near the French fort on the Maumee, where they would be safe from English seduction. To this end, he called them to a council, gave them ample gifts, and made them an harangue in the name of the Governor. The Demoiselle took the gifts, thanked his French father for his good advice, and promised to follow it at a more convenient time.[11] In vain Céloron insisted that he and his tribesmen should remove at once. Neither blandishments nor threats would prevail, and the French commander felt that his negotiation had failed.

[Footnote 11: Céloron, _Journal_. Compare _A Message from the Twightwees_ (Miamis) in _Colonial Records of Pa_., V. 437, where they say that they refused the gifts.]

He was not deceived. Far from leaving his village, the Demoiselle, who was Great Chief of the Miami Confederacy, gathered his followers to the spot, till, less than two years after the visit of Céloron, its population had increased eightfold. Pique Town, or Pickawillany, as the English called it, became one of the greatest Indian towns of the West, the centre of English trade and influence, and a capital object of French jealousy.

Céloron burned his shattered canoes, and led his party across the long and difficult portage to the French post on the Maumee, where he found Raymond, the commander, and all his men, shivering with fever and ague. They supplied him with wooden canoes for his voyage down the river; and, early in October, he reached Lake Erie, where he was detained for a time by a drunken debauch of his Indians, who are called by the chaplain "a species of men made to exercise the patience of those who have the misfortune to travel with them." In a month more he was at Fort Frontenac; and as he descended thence to Montreal, he stopped at the Oswegatchie, in obedience to the Governor, who had directed him to report the progress made by the Sulpitian, Abbé Piquet, at his new mission. Piquet's new fort had been burned by Indians, prompted, as he thought, by the English of Oswego; but the priest, buoyant and undaunted, was still resolute for the glory of God and the confusion of the heretics.

At length Céloron reached Montreal; and, closing his Journal, wrote thus: "Father Bonnecamp, who is a Jesuit and a great mathematician, reckons that we have travelled twelve hundred leagues; I and my officers think we have travelled more. All I can say is, that the nations of these countries are very ill-disposed towards the French, and devoted entirely to the English."[12] If his expedition had done no more, it had at least revealed clearly the deplorable condition of French interests in the West.

[Footnote 12: _Journal de la Campagne que moy Céloron, Chevalier de l'Ordre Royal et Militaire de St. Louis, Capitaine Commandant un détachement envoyé dans la Belle Rivière par les ordres de M. le Marquis de La Galissonière_, etc.

_Relation d'un voyage dans la Belle Rivière sous les ordres de M. de Céloron, par le Père Bonnecamp, en_ 1749.]

While Céloron was warning English traders from the Ohio, a plan was on foot in Virginia for a new invasion of the French domain. An association was formed to settle the Ohio country; and a grant of five hundred thousand acres was procured from the King, on condition that a hundred families should be established upon it within seven years, a fort built, and a garrison maintained. The Ohio Company numbered among its members some of the chief men of Virginia, including two brothers of Washington; and it had also a London partner, one Hanbury, a person of influence, who acted as its agent in England. In the year after the expedition of Céloron, its governing committee sent the trader Christopher Gist to explore the country and select land. It must be "good level land," wrote the Committee; "we had rather go quite down to the Mississippi than take mean, broken land."[13] In November Gist reached Logstown, the Chiningué of Céleron, where he found what he calls a "parcel of reprobate Indian traders." Those whom he so stigmatizes were Pennsylvanians, chiefly Scotch-Irish, between whom and the traders from Virginia there was great jealousy. Gist was told that he "should never go home safe." He declared himself the bearer of a message from the King. This imposed respect, and he was allowed to proceed. At the Wyandot village of Muskingum he found the trader George Croghan, sent to the Indians by the Governor of Pennsylvania, to renew the chain of friendship.[14] "Croghan," he says, "is a mere idol among his countrymen, the Irish traders;" yet they met amicably, and the Pennsylvanian had with him a companion, Andrew Montour, the interpreter, who proved of great service to Gist. As Montour was a conspicuous person in his time, and a type of his class, he merits a passing notice. He was the reputed grandson of a French governor and an Indian squaw. His half-breed mother, Catharine Montour, was a native of Canada, whence she was carried off by the Iroquois, and adopted by them. She lived in a village at the head of Seneca Lake, and still held the belief, inculcated by the guides of her youth, that Christ was a Frenchman crucified by the English.[15] Her son Andrew is thus described by the Moravian Zinzendorf, who knew him: "His face is like that of a European, but marked with a broad Indian ring of bear's-grease and paint drawn completely round it. He wears a coat of fine cloth of cinnamon color, a black necktie with silver spangles, a red satin waistcoat, trousers over which hangs his shirt, shoes and stockings, a hat, and brass ornaments, something like the handle of a basket, suspended from his ears."[16] He was an excellent interpreter, and held in high account by his Indian kinsmen.

[Footnote 13: Instructions to Gist, in appendix to Pownall, _Topographical Description of North America_.]

[Footnote 14: _Mr. Croghan's Transactions with the Indians_, in _N.Y. Col. Docs.,_ VII. 267; _Croghan to Hamilton, 16 Dec_. 1750.]

[Footnote 15: This is stated by Count Zinzendorf, who visited her among the Senecas. In a plan of the "Route of the Western Army," made in 1779, and of which a tracing is before me, the village where she lived is still called "French Catharine's Town."]

[Footnote 16: Journal of Zinzendorf, quoted in Schweinitz, _Life of David Zeisberger, 112, note_.]

After leaving Muskingum, Gist, Croghan, and Montour went together to a village on White Woman's Creek,--so called from one Mary Harris, who lived here. She was born in New England, was made prisoner when a child forty years before, and had since dwelt among her captors, finding such comfort as she might in an Indian husband and a family of young half-breeds. "She still remembers," says Gist, "that they used to be very religious in New England, and wonders how white men can be so wicked as she has seen them in these woods." He and his companions now journeyed southwestward to the Shawanoe town at the mouth of the Scioto, where they found a reception very different from that which had awaited Céloron. Thence they rode northwestward along the forest path that led to Pickawillany, the Indian town on the upper waters of the Great Miami. Gist was delighted with the country; and reported to his employers that "it is fine, rich, level land, well timbered with large walnut, ash, sugar trees and cherry trees; well watered with a great number of little streams and rivulets; full of beautiful natural meadows, with wild rye, blue-grass, and clover, and abounding with turkeys, deer, elks, and most sorts of game, particularly buffaloes, thirty or forty of which are frequently seen in one meadow." A little farther west, on the plains of the Wabash and the Illinois, he would have found them by thousands.

They crossed the Miami on a raft, their horses swimming after them; and were met on landing by a crowd of warriors, who, after smoking with them, escorted them to the neighboring town, where they were greeted by a fusillade of welcome. "We entered with English colors before us, and were kindly received by their king, who invited us into his own house and set our colors upon the top of it; then all the white men and traders that were there came and welcomed us." This "king" was Old Britain, or La Demoiselle. Great were the changes here since Céleron, a year and a half before, had vainly enticed him to change his abode, and dwell in the shadow of the fleur-de-lis. The town had grown to four hundred families, or about two thousand souls; and the English traders had built for themselves and their hosts a fort of pickets, strengthened with logs.

There was a series of councils in the long house, or town-hall. Croghan made the Indians a present from the Governor of Pennsylvania; and he and Gist delivered speeches of friendship and good advice, which the auditors received with the usual monosyllabic plaudits, ejected from the depths of their throats. A treaty of peace was solemnly made between the English and the confederate tribes, and all was serenity and joy; till four Ottawas, probably from Detroit, arrived with a French flag, a gift of brandy and tobacco, and a message from the French commandant inviting the Miamis to visit him. Whereupon the great war-chief rose, and, with "a fierce tone and very warlike air," said to the envoys: "Brothers the Ottawas, we let you know, by these four strings of wampum, that we will not hear anything the French say, nor do anything they bid us." Then addressing the French as if actually present: "Fathers, we have made a road to the sun-rising, and have been taken by the hand by our brothers the English, the Six Nations, the Delawares, Shawanoes, and Wyandots.[17] We assure you, in that road we will go; and as you threaten us with war in the spring, we tell you that we are ready to receive you." Then, turning again to the four envoys: "Brothers the Ottawas, you hear what I say. Tell that to your fathers the French, for we speak it from our hearts." The chiefs then took down the French flag which the Ottawas had planted in the town, and dismissed the envoys with their answer of defiance.

[Footnote 17: Compare _Message of Miamis and Hurons to the Governor of Pennsylvania_ in _N.Y. Col. Docs_., VI. 594; and _Report of Croghan_ in _Colonial Records of Pa_., V. 522, 523.]

On the next day the town-crier came with a message from the Demoiselle, inviting his English guests to a "feather dance," which Gist thus describes: "It was performed by three dancing-masters, who were painted all over of various colors, with long sticks in their hands, upon the ends of which were fastened long feathers of swans and other birds, neatly woven in the shape of a fowl's wing; in this disguise they performed many antic tricks, waving their sticks and feathers about with great skill, to imitate the flying and fluttering of birds, keeping exact time with their music." This music was the measured thumping of an Indian drum. From time to time, a warrior would leap up, and the drum and the dancers would cease as he struck a post with his tomahawk, and in a loud voice recounted his exploits. Then the music and the dance began anew, till another warrior caught the martial fire, and bounded into the circle to brandish his tomahawk and vaunt his prowess.

On the first of March Gist took leave of Pickawillany, and returned towards the Ohio. He would have gone to the Falls, where Louisville now stands, but for a band of French Indians reported to be there, who would probably have killed him. After visiting a deposit of mammoth bones on the south shore, long the wonder of the traders, he turned eastward, crossed with toil and difficulty the mountains about the sources of the Kenawha, and after an absence of seven months reached his frontier home on the Yadkin, whence he proceeded to Roanoke with the report of his journey.[18]

[Footnote 18: _Journal of Christopher Gist_, in appendix to Pownall, _Topographical Description. Mr. Croghan's Transactions with the Indians_ in _N.Y. Col. Docs_., VII. 267.]

All looked well for the English in the West; but under this fair outside lurked hidden danger. The Miamis were hearty in the English cause, and so perhaps were the Shawanoes; but the Delawares had not forgotten the wrongs that drove them from their old abodes east of the Alleghanies, while the Mingoes, or emigrant Iroquois, like their brethren of New York, felt the influence of Joncaire and other French agents, who spared no efforts to seduce them.[19] Still more baneful to British interests were the apathy and dissensions of the British colonies themselves. The Ohio Company had built a trading-house at Will's Creek, a branch of the Potomac, to which the Indians resorted in great numbers; whereupon the jealous traders of Pennsylvania told them that the Virginians meant to steal away their lands. This confirmed what they had been taught by the French emissaries, whose intrigues it powerfully aided. The governors of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia saw the importance of Indian alliances, and felt their own responsibility in regard to them; but they could do nothing without their assemblies. Those of New York and Pennsylvania were largely composed of tradesmen and farmers, absorbed in local interests, and possessed by two motives,--the saving of the people's money, and opposition to the governor, who stood for the royal prerogative. It was Hamilton, of Pennsylvania, who had sent Croghan to the Miamis to "renew the chain of friendship;" and when the envoy returned, the Assembly rejected his report. "I was condemned," he says, "for bringing expense on the Government, and the Indians were neglected."[20]

[Footnote 19: Joncaire made anti-English speeches to the Ohio Indians under the eyes of the English themselves, who did not molest him. _Journal of George Croghan_, 1751, in _Olden Time, I_. 136.]

[Footnote 20: _Mr. Croghan's Transactions with the Indians, N.Y. Col. Docs.,_ VII. 267.]

In the same year Hamilton again sent him over the mountains, with a present for the Mingoes and Delawares. Croghan succeeded in persuading them that it would be for their good if the English should build a fortified trading-house at the fork of the Ohio, where Pittsburg now stands; and they made a formal request to the Governor that it should be built accordingly. But, in the words of Croghan, the Assembly "rejected the proposal, and condemned me for making such a report." Yet this post on the Ohio was vital to English interests. Even the Penns, proprietaries of the province, never lavish of their money, offered four hundred pounds towards the cost of it, besides a hundred a year towards its maintenance; but the Assembly would not listen.[21] The Indians were so well convinced that a strong English trading-station in their country would add to their safety and comfort, that when Pennsylvania refused it, they repeated the proposal to Virginia; but here, too, it found for the present little favor.

[Footnote 21: _Colonial Records of Pa_., V. 515, 529, 547. At a council at Logstown (1751), the Indians said to Croghan: "The French want to cheat us out of our country; but we will stop them, and, Brothers the English, you must help us. We expect that you will build a strong house on the River Ohio, that in case of war we may have a place to secure our wives and children, likewise our brothers that come to trade with us." _Report of Treaty at Logstown, Ibid_., V. 538.]

The question of disputed boundaries had much to do with this most impolitic inaction. A large part of the valley of the Ohio, including the site of the proposed establishment, was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia; and each feared that whatever money it might spend there would turn to the profit of the other. This was not the only evil that sprang from uncertain ownership. "Till the line is run between the two provinces," says Dinwiddie, governor of Virginia, "I cannot appoint magistrates to keep the traders in good order."[22] Hence they did what they pleased, and often gave umbrage to the Indians. Clinton, of New York, appealed to his Assembly for means to assist Pennsylvania in "securing the fidelity of the Indians on the Ohio," and the Assembly refused.[23] "We will take care of our Indians, and they may take care of theirs:" such was the spirit of their answer. He wrote to the various provinces, inviting them to send commissioners to meet the tribes at Albany, "in order to defeat the designs and intrigues of the French." All turned a deaf ear except Massachusetts, Connecticut, and South Carolina, who sent the commissioners, but supplied them very meagrely with the indispensable presents.[24] Clinton says further: "The Assembly of this province have not given one farthing for Indian affairs, nor for a year past have they provided for the subsistence of the garrison at Oswego, which is the key for the commerce between the colonies and the inland nations of Indians."[25]

[Footnote 22: _Dinwiddie to the Lords of Trade, 6 Oct_. 1752.]

[Footnote 23: _Journals of New York Assembly_, II. 283, 284. _Colonial Records of Pa_., V. 466.]

[Footnote 24: _Clinton to Hamilton, 18 Dec. 1750. Clinton to Lords of Trade, 13 June, 1751; Ibid., 17 July_, 1751.]

[Footnote 25: _Clinton to Bedford, 30 July_, 1750.]

In the heterogeneous structure of the British colonies, their clashing interests, their internal disputes, and the misplaced economy of penny-wise and short-sighted assembly-men, lay the hope of France. The rulers of Canada knew the vast numerical preponderance of their rivals; but with their centralized organization they felt themselves more than a match for any one English colony alone. They hoped to wage war under the guise of peace, and to deal with the enemy in detail; and they at length perceived that the fork of the Ohio, so strangely neglected by the English, formed, together with Niagara, the key of the Great West. Could France hold firmly these two controlling passes, she might almost boast herself mistress of the continent.

NOTE: The Journal of Céloron (Archives de la Marine) is very long and circumstantial, including the _procès verbaux_, and reports of councils with Indians. The Journal of the chaplain, Bonnecamp (Dépôt de la Marine), is shorter, but is the work of an intelligent and observing man. The author, a Jesuit, was skilled in mathematics, made daily observations, and constructed a map of the route, still preserved at the Dépôt de la Marine. Concurrently with these French narratives, one may consult the English letters and documents bearing on the same subjects, in the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, the Archives of Pennsylvania, and the Colonial Documents of New York.

Three of Céleron's leaden plates have been found,--the two mentioned in the text, and another which was never buried, and which the Indians, who regarded these mysterious tablets as "bad medicine," procured by a trick from Joncaire, or, according to Governor Clinton, stole from him. A Cayuga chief brought it to Colonel Johnson, on the Mohawk, who interpreted the "Devilish writing" in such a manner as best to inspire horror of French designs.