History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Life and Times of
Sir William Johnson, Bart.,
by William L. Stone
Albany: J. Munsell, 78 State Street, 1865.
Chapter XI. 1750-1751.
Peace had once more spread her wings over the American Colonies. The farmer, hanging his trusty rifle over the fireplace, could again sow his fields without fear of the
whistling bullet or the reeking tomahawk. The little child, clinging no longer to its mother's breast in frantic terror as the savage warwhoop was borne past on the midnight air, slumbered peacefully in its cradle. And the plowman, as he trudged home at nightfall from a weary day's work, looked forward to the greetings of his wife and children, rather than a lonely and desolated hearth.
The treaty of Aix La Chapelle, however, was received by the colonies with less satisfaction than might have been anticipated, from the termination of the bloody war, which had for so long a period desolated her frontiers. By this treaty-a treaty which has been justly characterized, as "the most inglorious and impolitic compact to which Britain had acceded since the revolution of 1688"-it was agreed that all conquests which had been obtained by either side, should be restored. In accordance with this agreement, England surrendered Cape Breton to France, receiving in return only a slight advantage toward the preservation of that mythical idea-the balance of power.(1) After an immense expenditure of
(1) The basis of the treaty, as between England, France and Spain, was a mutual release of all prisoners without ransom, and a restoration of all conquests. Silesia was secured to Frederick, and the hereditary dominns of the empress queen were guarantied to her according to the Pragmatic Sanction. With this restoration of conquests, the American colonists had the mortification to see Cape Breton, with the fortress of Louisburg, surrendered back to France as an equivalent for the towns in Flanders taken by the French from the Germans, her allies. England, moreover, had stooped to send two hostages, persons of rank, to remain in France, as a pledge for this restoration.-Smollett; see also Grahame.
money; and after a bloody and disastrous war, England came from the convocation at Aix La Chapelle, in the eyes of every true hearted Englishman, humbled and abased. The news of the peace was received by New England, with even stronger feelings of indignation than by her sister colonies. She felt that Cape Breton-for the capture of which she expended so much blood and treasure-had been sacrificed merely to gratify and sustain the selfish policy of the mother country. The private correspondence of this period-the surest test, perhaps, of the real state of public opinion in any age-teems with the strong feelings of men, who feel that they have been duped. Especially was this indignation prevalent among those who had served against the French; and who after receiving so many scars in defence of English honor, saw it now sullied and disgraced.(1)
But though the peace between England and France was now formally consummated, it required no prophetic vision to foresee, that in a short time, it would be a peace only in name. In the articles of the treaty, no mention whatever was made of the French encroachments upon the territory of the Iroquois, although the first care of England should have been, to insist upon the removal of Fort Frederick at Crown Point. The boundaries between the English and French possessions, along the rivers Mississippi and St. Lawrence, and the limits even of Nova Scotia, one of the original causes of the war, were left entirely undetermined; it being tacitly understood, that the boundaries should remain as they were before the war.(2)
(1) In a manuscript letter to Colonel Johnson, from an officer who had left the walks of private life for the army, occurs the following passage. " Nothing would give me more pleasure than to have the honor to serve his majesty, but believe me if ever I get into a good way of life again I shall be very cautious how I quit it."
(2) Commissioners, it is true, were appointed to settle these boundaries, but their proceedings were conducted with such asperity, as rendered their proceedings a mere farce.
dispute, it was not to be supposed that they would give no more trouble, now that the dispute was brought to a close by a hollow peace. The result is readily seen. Each government hastened to occupy as much land as possible in advance of the other and the formation of the Ohio company, -with a grant from the crown of six hundred thousand acres, determined France to push forward with greater alacrity the bold design which she had formed as early as 1731, in erecting Fort Frederick on Lake Champlain. This was no less than the connecting the St. Lawrence with the Gulf of Mexico, by a chain of forts along that river to Detroit, and down the Ohio to the Mississippi, In accordance with this project, La Galissoniere, in 1749, deputed Celoron de Bienville to occupy the valley of the Ohio ; and that officer, pursuing his instructions, proceeded down the Ohio in a canoe, burying at the mouth of every large creek a plate of lead, with the inscription, that from the rise of the Ohio to its mouth, the country belonged to France. (1)
But the French government, well aware that the possession of the Ohio, would lose much of its value, so long as a free communication was open to the New England colonies, resolved to lose no time in gaining the Iroquois as allies, and thus interpose a formidable barrier against the designs of the English.
In pursuance of this project, Rev. Abbe Picquet, aided by the French government, established, in 1749, a mission school on the St. Lawrence, at the mouth of the Oswegatchie river, called La Presentation.(2)
Francis Picquet, the founder of this mission, was a man peculiarly formed for this undertaking. A zealous priest and a staunch soldier, the crozier and the sword were to him alike familiar. On several occasions, he had accompanied
(1) Paris Doc. x. 9-"Within a few years, oneof these plates, with the inscription partially effaced, has been found near the mouth of the Muskingum." North American Review for July, 1839.
the Indians in their incursions upon the English settlements; and was with the party that destroyed the fort at Saratoga, and the Lydius mills.(1) His keen mind had early foreseen the war which was to rage so fiercely between his nation and the English; and he had long urged the policy of receiving the Six Nations as allies. When therefore the necessity was seen of cultivating the friendship of the latter, as a step 'toward the secure possession of the west, the proposition of Picquet to La Galissoniere, to establish a mission for the conversion of the Six Nations, was readily accepted.(2)
The site chosen by Picquet for the mission, evinced his sagacity.(3) Situated on the St. Lawrence, between Oswego and Montreal, the passage of the English into Canada by this route could readily be intercepted. Its proximity to Lake Ontario served to aid and protect the posts which had already been erected on that lake by the French; while its fine harbor afforded a secure shelter, for the bateaux that passed up the St. Lawrence from Montreal with supplies for the French traders at the different posts on the lake. The establishment of this mission, was the occasion of much solicitude on the part of the colonies; while its effect upon the minds of the Indians was exceedingly dreaded by Colonel Johnson. These apprehensions were not unfounded, for in the next war La Presentation formed a rendezvous, from which scalping parties were fitted out; and which committed such depredations along the New York frontier and the
(1) Fort Edward.
(2) Picquet was called by the French "the Apostle of the Iroquois" by the English "the Jesuit of the west."
(3) It is true that in an account of the war from 1749-1760, published under the direction of the Quebec Hist. Soc. in 1835, an anonymous writer calls La Presentation, Picquet's Folly ; but the writer evidently bears such a personal enmity against Picquet, that his authority, on this point, is of no value.
(3) Manuscript correspondence between Colonel Johnson and Mr. Clinton.
Mohawk river, as to lead General Gage to destroy the place in 1757.(1)
While the French were thus vigorously at work in the north and west, they were not less active in the south. As by the late treaty, there was no pretense for active hostilities, the policy of the French was now, to stir up dissensions among the different tribes friendly to the English. By fomenting animosities between the Indians, and causing them to prey upon each other, they hoped finally to compass their utter anihilation, and thus deprive their ancient enemy of the aid and support of its dusky allies-a diabolical plan, well worthy of the time of Nero, but scarcely to be credited of the civilization of the eighteenth century! While, therefore, Picquet was exerting his influence upon the Six Nations from La Presentation, on the St. Lawrence, Jean Coeur was sent to the tribes bordering on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers- The indomitable perseverence of these emissaries, was for the time but too successful. Through their influence obtained by the lavish use of presents-the minds of the Six Nations, and a few of the western tribes, became greatly inflamed against the Catawbas, a small tribe depending chiefly upon Virginia, and residing principally in the Carolinas; and they were again, in violation of their promises to Governor Clinton, preparing for a devastating war upon that people.(2)
Ever alive to the interests of the crown, Johnson, early in the previous year, had written to: Clinton, informing him of the growing ill feeling of the Confederates against the Catawbas; and had advised the holding of a council, at some place where the Confederates and the Catawbas could meet, and conclude a treaty of peace.(3) At about
(l) History of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties,
by Franklin B. Hough.
(2) Manuscript correspondence between Johnson and Clinton.
(3) As far back as the year 1740, it will be remembered, there hail been a feud existing between the Catawbas and the Six Nations. It had, however, become almost extinct until it was revived with a thousand fold more intensity by Picquet and Coeur.
the same time, Governor Clinton was also informed, by a letter from Governor Glen of South Carolina, that the Senecas had made several attacks upon the Catawbas, which threatened, to produce very serious disturbance. Mr. Glen farther wrote, that the northern Indians made the war upon this tribe an excuse for plundering and killing the negroes and whites; and that unless these inroads were stopped, he would be obliged to offer a reward for every northern Indian, who might be killed within the settlement.(1)
Aware of the importance of nipping in the bud a matter which threatened to involve the colonies in such serious complications, Governor Clinton determined to act upon the suggestions of Colonel Johnson, and summon a council. In view, however, of the active efforts which the French were making, to wean the different Indian nations throughout the country, from their old alliance, he determined to have the ends of the council take a wider scope; and have a general meeting of delegates from all the colonies, at which some plan of union might be adopted, to retain in the British interest, all those Indians who were originally included in the covenant chain. He therefore wrote to the several governors, requesting that they would express their views freely upon this subject; and that if the project struck them favorably, they would appoint delegates to meet in June of the next year. All the governors, with the exception of the governor of Virginia who. did not vouchsafe any reply, responded favorably. Those of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and South Carolina, were, however, the only ones who entered heartily into the plan. The governors of New Hampshire and Pennsylvania wrote, that they were favorably impressed with the idea, but that their assemblies were not disposed to vote money enough to furnish their delegates with presents for the Indians; while the other governors, likewise hampered by their assemblies, were still more lukewarm, and still less disposed to enter into the arrangement.
(1) Governor Glen to Governor Clinton, 7th July, 1760.
Notwithstanding these discouragements, Governor Clinton announced his intention of meeting the Six Nations at Albany the following year, and so informed Colonel Johnson. The latter immediately summoned both of the Mohawk castles together, and in a speech, informed the Indians of the governor's intention of meeting them in council, the following year at Albany. The object of the council, he told them, was to afford the Six Nations the opportunity of making a peace with the Catawbas, with whom they had been at war for some time. He represented to them, how wrong it was to war against a tribe that they had agreed to be at peace with, according to the treaty of 1740 ; and closed with a request, that they would choose their delegates to represent them in the approaching council. The Mohawks, in the name of the Confederacy, replied, that they would consent to a treaty, provided that the Catawbas would send six of their sachems to meet and confer with their chiefs at Albany.
Shortly after this preliminary conference, Thomas Lee, president of the council in Virginia, sent a message to the Six Nations, desiring them to meet the Catawbas in Fredricksburgh, and receive the presents, which the governor of Virginia, on the part of his majesty, desired to give them. The Six Nations, however, feeling that they were the aggrieved party, thought the Catawbas ought, instead, to come and meet them; and in their answer, desired the governor of Virginia " to move his council fire to Albany, where they would gladly hear him, and receive the presents sent by his majesty."
l751. The preliminary conferences opened on the twenty-
(1) In the treaty of Lancaster, in 1744, between the provinces of Maryland and Virginia and the Six Nations, occurs this passage, spoken by a sachem of the Six Nations : "You charge us with not acting according to our peace with the Catawbas. We will repeat to you truly what was done. The governor of New York, at Albany, gave us several belts of wampum from the Cherokees and Catawbas, and we agreed to a peace, if those nations would send some of their great men to us to confirm it face to face, * * * but they never came."-Colden's History of the Six Nations.
eighth of June. Commissioners from the colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and South Carolina were in attendance. Governor Clinton was also present, accompanied by Doctor Colden, James Alexander, James De Lancey and Edward Holland, members of the executive council. William Bull, the commissioner from South Carolina, and one of the counselors of that province, brought with him the king of the Catawbas, and five of their sachems, who came on behalf of their people to treat with the Six Nations, The first day was chiefly taken up in treating with a party of Michillimackinac and Caughnawaga Indians, who, chancing to be in the vicinity at this time, came in their canoes to Albany, " as a compliment," as they expressed it, "to his excellency;"(1)- while by the Six Nations, this interval was occupied in various forms and ceremonies usual when entering upon a solemn and lasting treaty.
Early on the following morning, the Six Nations waited upon the governor, and desired a private interview. It was their wish, they said, to speak with him before the general council was opened, upon a matter which had been discussed that morning in their private deliberations. The audience was, of course, granted, and as soon as the delegation was admitted, Hendrik, the Mohawk, proceeded to explain the object of their visit. They had come to consult with their Brother Corlear in relation to Colonel Johnson. When the war broke out, he had been recommended to them by his excellency, who had then told the that whatever the colonel said to them they might rely on as coming from himself. Moreover, as they had no hand in his appointment to the charge of their affairs, so neither had they been instrumental in his resignation; and he might judge therefore how shocked they were, on receiving from Mr. Johnson a belt notifying them of his
(1) The Caughnawagas, at the same time, said that they would, immediately leave the city ; but so dilatory were they, that Mr. Clinton was obliged to send the Sheriff to expedite their departure.
intention to give up the care of their affairs. "We had him," he continued, "in war, when he was like a tree that grew for our use, which now seems to he falling down, though it has many roots. His knowledge of our affairs made us think him an Indian like ourselves; and we are greatly afraid, as he has declined, that your excellency will appoint some person-a stranger both to us and our affairs." They therefore desired the governor to immediately reinstate the colonel, and let them know his decision as soon as possible-" for," added the Mohawk sachem, "he has large ears, and heareth a great deal; and what he hears he tells to us. He has also large eyes, and sees a great way, and conceals nothing from us." In his reply, on the following day, Mr. Clinton stated that the recent action of Colonel Johnson had been taken contrary to his desire, and that his absence at this time was entirely unexpected, inasmuch as he had promised to be present and assist him with his advice. But since he absolutely refused to take any farther charge of their affairs, he could not help it, and he should therefore be obliged to appoint some other in his place. They might, however, rest assured, that in the appointment of a successor, he should be governed solely by a desire to promote their welfare which he had truly at heart. "You have more reason," added Mr. Clinton " to trust me in this, since Colonel Johnson, by whom you have been so well cared for, was my own selection." The answer of the Indians was characteristic. They told the governor that one-half of Colonel Johnson belonged to his excellency, and the other to them; and that since he could not prevail on the colonel to come down, they begged permission to try their influence by sending a message to him with a string of wampum. This request having been granted, provided they were as expeditious as possible, Hendrik immediately dispatched a fleet runner to Mount Johnson, with the remark that "he would go sooner than a horse."
(1) Manuscript council minutes.
Colonel Johnson, who was already on his way to the council, met the Indian messenger near Schenectady; and on his arrival in Albany, he was informed by Mr. Clinton of the state of feeling among the Confederates, and in behalf of his majesty's council, earnestly requested to continue in the charge of their affairs. To this request, the colonel, who felt too much hurt at the manner in which he had been treated by the assembly to change his resolution, gave a courteous but decided refusal. At the same time, however, his reasons for this course were given in full. It was impossible, he said, to continue longer in the management of Indian affairs, without great detriment, if not ruin, to his private fortune. It was well known that prior to the third day of November, 1748, he had advanced from his own purse, for the Indian department and the supply of the garrison at Oswego-after others had declined supplying that post because of the war--the sum of £7,177 - 3s. 2d.; and that of this amount, although the items had all been duly sworn to by him and delivered into the assembly, that body had made provision only for £5,801 7s. 4d., leaving due a balance of £1,375 - 15s. 10d., for which no provision had as yet been made. He farther stated, that of this £5,801 - 7s. 4d., for which he had received warrants on the treasurer several years since, there remained £2,401 still unpaid, and that too, although he had good reason to believe that the Oswego duties-the fund out of which those warrants were paid-were amply sufficient to pay all drafts made upon it. This state of things was also the more galling, since he was well aware that warrants to others, of a much later date than his own, had been paid without any hesitation; while at the same time, no steps had been taken to compensate him for this delay in the payment of these advances. He also reminded Mr. Clinton, that in addition to all this, he had advanced, at his excellency's request, since the third day of November 1748, for the same objects, the farther sum of £595 12s. 8d., of which he had received no part, nor did he know of any provision made to meet it. In view therefore of all these considerations, while he entertained the kindest feelings toward the government, he could not, in justice to himself, continue longer in the Indian department- especially since he could have no reason to depend on the assembly to provide for future advances. At the same time, however, he expressed his willingness to render all assistance, in an individual capacity, during the present treaty.(1)
The colonel's answer having been laid before the council, the latter desired the governor to exercise a supervision of Indian affairs during the treaty now in progress. At the same time, it requested him to lay before the crown the "uncommon and great sufferings, which Colonel Johnson had sustained" in its behalf, and recommend that suitable recompense be given him, not only for the money which he had advanced, but likewise for his personal Services, for which he had made no charge.
Although the Colonel had been appointed to his majesty's council in April of the previous year, yet it had not been convenient for him until now to take the oaths of office. The usual oaths were accordingly administered at this time, and he thereupon took his seat at the council board,-a seat which he continued to fill until his decease.
Everything being now in readiness, Mr. Clinton opened the council on the sixth of July, with a short speech to the Six Nations, in which the object of the present meeting was fully set forth. It was, he said, to brighten and strengthen the covenant chain, that it might endure for all time against the designs of their enemies. The governor of Canada, especially, was endeavoring to break this chain, by obstructing the trade between Albany and those distant Indians who passed through their country. "Another artifice," he continued, "which the enemies of our covenant chain make use of, is, to excite variance and war between the several Indian nations that are united with your
(1) Manuscript council minutes.
brethren the English, in the several parts of this great continent. Nothing can so effectually weaken and at last entirely destroy the brethren, as their falling out among themselves, and eventually killing and destroying one another. This is doing the work of your enemies; while they sit looking on and laugh at your folly. If all the Indian Nations, united in friendship with Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, this government, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire, were truly and firmly united in the same councils, with love and friendship, how great would that power be, what dread must it strike on your enemies, and who would dare attempt to hurt them. In order to accomplish this so much to be desired union, I have prevailed upon the governor of South Carolina to send a gentleman to this place, whom you now see here, and to send with him six of the chiefs of the Catawbas, who are now in this city ready to make peace with you and to become your fast friends, and to unite with you in our common cause-as in your former treaties in this place, you desired and solemnly promised to receive them as one flesh and blood with you on their coming to it. I therefore, by this belt, excite you to lay hold of the proffered peace and friendship with the Catawbas. It must tend to strengthen the covenant chain and the common interest of us all. I can no longer bear to see those who are our brethren, killing and destroying one another, and therefore I cannot doubt of your cheerfully agreeing to what I now propose,"
Two days afterward, the Confederates replied that as the commissioners came to renew the covenant chain with the Six Nations, they also were there for the same purpose; and that as it was the wish of their brother Corlear, that they should make peace with the Catawbas, they would see and talk with them upon the subject. Mr. Bull then rose, and read a letter from the governor of South Carolina, expressive of his good will, and of his hopes that they would conclude a treaty with the Catawbas and keep the covenant chain ever bright and free from rust. He followed the reading of the letter by a few remarks in a pleasant strain, closing as follows: " We have heard what his excellency, Governor Clinton has said concerning a peace, and what his excellency, the governor of South Carolina, has written to you, and also what I have now said. You will hear next what the chiefs of the Catawbas, who came here with me will say. They came to this council fire at Albany, to meet you, in order to make peace with you. They know it is the desire of the English that peace should be made between you, and you know it is the desire of the English, also. To open your ears, I give you this belt of wampum."
As soon as the South Carolina commissioner had finished, the Catawba king and his chiefs approached the grand council singing a song of peace; their ensigns, (colored feathers) being borne horizontally." Every one present admired the decorum and dignity of their behavior, as well as the solemn air of their song. A seat was prepared for them at the right hand of the governor's company. Their two singers, with the two ensigns of feathers, continued their song, half fronting to the center of the old sachems, to whom they addressed their song, and pointed their feathers, shaking their musical calabashes, while the Catawba king was busily preparing and lighting the calumet of peace. The king first smoked, and presented the calumet to Hendrik, who gracefully accepted it and smoked. The king then passed the pipe to each sachem in the front rank, and several in the second rank reached to receive it from him, to smoke also. The Catawba singers then ceased, and fastened their feathers, calumets, and calabashes to the tent pole; after which the king stood up and advancing, thus addressed the Six Nations"(1)
"Friends: I, last year, with the advice of my great men,
(1) This description is taken from Drayton to whom it was related by an eye witness.
determined to make a peace with you, and set out for that purpose, but was taken sick by the way, which hindered me. The same resolution remained in my heart, and the governor of Carolina, agreeing with me, consented to send a vessel to New York, that we might meet you here at this treaty, which greatly rejoiced me, and when I came away my towns all shook hands with me, and desired me, for them, to make a peace; and I give this belt, which has all my towns upon it, signifying that they all join in my desire.
"We are all friends to the English and desire to he so with our brethren the Six Nations; and as some of your people are now out, that do not know of the peace, when they are all returned, and the path clear and safe, I will come to your towns and houses, and smoke with you, as I would in my own."(l)
The king of the Catawbas, and the sachem's with him, then advanced and shook hands with the Six Nations, who thereupon replied:
"Brethren: "We are glad to see you here, and return you thanks for your kind speech. But as it is a thing of moment, we must take time to consider of it, and shall answer you this evening or tomorrow morning."
It was not, however, until the tenth, that the Confederates were ready to give their answer; when their chief sachem, having lighted a pipe and handed it to the Catawbas, thus spoke:
Brethren the Catawbas: You came to our towns and fires to make peace with us, and we have heard your kind speech, and thank you for it, and as a token that you came to make peace, and were received as our friends, we give you this white belt of wampum, to wear about your necks, that all that see it, may know that you have been here and were received as our friends.
This belt serves to make you more powerful, and give you short horns ; it has been a custom among all Indian nations, that when they come to sue for peace, they bring
(1) Council minutes.
some prisoners with them, and when you return with prisoners, the peace shall be completed, and your horns lengthened, and we give you a year to return with your prisoners, and if you do not come in that time, we shall look upon the peace as void.
We will take your pipe up to the Mohawk's castles, being the first town you came to, as it were, and there sit and smoke, and think of you, and not go out to war, if you return within the time appointed by us."
The treaty having been thus made, Governor Clinton distributed the presents, brought by the commissioners, among the Indians, and the council was formally dismissed; but not until " the hatchet was buried irrecoverably deep, and a tree of peace planted, which was to be green as the Alleghenies, and to spread its branches till its shadow should reach from the great lakes to the gulf of Mexico." (1)
The general effect of this council, upon the Indians at least, was satisfactory. Although Governor Clinton was unsuccessful in persuading the several colonies to join in an alliance against the machinations of the French, yet the main object-that of prevailing upon the Six Nations to conclude a treaty with the Catawbas was accomplished. Early in June of the following year, the Catawbas, desirous of performing their part of the agreement, sent to the Confederates a Cayuga prisoner in charge of four of their warriors ; and thus the feeling of hatred entertained by the Six Nations toward that nation which had been so bitter before the treaty, as to cause the confinement of the Catawba chiefs in a separate apartment was now changed to that of cordial friendship.(2)
(2) Manuscript letter: John Ogilvie to Colonel Johnson. The Catawbas, at the time of the treaty, held in captivity three of the Six Nations ; but during the year one had died, and the other refused to come by sea, preferring to remain in South Carolina until he could come by land.-Governor Glen to Governor Clinton.
Shortly after the arrival of the Catawba braves, Johnson wrote to Clinton, that the peace between that people and the Confederates was fully ratified ; and that the Catawbas had returned into their own country, escorted by several Iroquois warriors, who had volunteered to see them safely through those nations, who might not have heard of the recent peace.
Previous to his departure for Albany, Mr. Clinton had requested a farther appropriation for Indian presents in addition to the sum voted at a former session; and the legislature, in a better spirit than usual, had at that time promised to supply any deficiency in that regard, which might arise, in brightening the covenant chain with the Six Nations. In the fall session of the assembly, however, the spirit of faction was again manifest, notwithstanding three of the chief leaders of the opposition had died since its last sitting-Mr. Clarkson, Mr. Philipse and Mr. Michaux. In his opening message, on the eighth of October, Mr. Clinton communicated to the house the result of the late treaty. The resignation of Colonel Johnson was attributed to its negligence in omitting to pass bills adequate for the support of the Indian department; and the designs of the French, and the consequent importance of sending agents to the distant western tribes, urged. The message closed by asking for the usual supplies for the maintenance of the government.
The house in its answer, the following day, said that it would cheerfully provide for the support of his majesty's government, and make provision for all the just debts that on examination, should be found chargeable on the colony that it was well aware that the security of the colonies depended, in a great degree, upon the fidelity of the Indians, but it had hoped that the sum of one thousand pounds, voted for that purpose, would have been amply sufficient to place the Indian affairs on such a basis, as to render a farther sum unnecessary. In the mean time, the several particulars of his excellency's speech should be attentively considered, and that which was judged best for his majesty's service, and for the welfare of the colony should be done. Finally, it reminded his excellency, that many of the members had not been notified by the usual circular letters of the present session of the assembly, a circumstance which it hoped would not again occur. Mr. Clinton, in his answer, stated that while it was true that the presents which he had given the Indians, at Albany, had produced a favorable effect, yet, unless the expense of daily providing for them was met, the good impression made at that time would soon be obliterated by the French priests. He also promised to lay before the assembly in a few days information lately received upon this point, which would render his remarks more clear. Alluding to the thousand pounds to which reference had been made, thousand pounds to which references had been made, nothing, he said, would give him greater pleasure than to send down to the house a full account of the manner in which it had been expended; and as to the neglect, of which he had been accused, in not notifying the members, it was not true, as his deputy secretary had sent letters to all the members, with the exception of the speaker. He farther added, in conclusion, that he had made this explanation to show how entirely he was influenced by the desire of advancing the security and welfare of the colony. In accordance with his promise, Mr. Clinton, on the ninth, sent to the house the accounts relating to the disposition of the thousand pounds, accompanied with extracts from the minutes of the late council.(2)
On the thirteenth of September, Mr. Clinton had laid before his privy council letters from Colonel Johnson and Captain Stoddard, the contents of which were indeed startling. From a French deserter the Colonel learned that a convoy of twelve hundred French, accompanied by two hundred Adirondack Indiana, had passed by Oswego about a fortnight before, with the object, so far as could be ascertained, of cutting off those western tribes friendly to the English, and driving off the Pennsylvania traders, who were erecting trading posts on the Ohio. Captain Stoddard's letter, also, confirmed this
(1) Journals of the assembly.
(2) Council minutes.
intelligence. Johnson farther wrote, that on the reception of this news, he had immediately dispatched a messenger, in the governor's name, with a belt of wampum, to all the castles of the Six Nations, informing them of the march of the French. Letters arrived, at nearly the same time, from Lieutenant Lindesay, in command at Oswego, to the effect that a Cayuga sachem had arrived from the Missessagas, bringing the intelligence that the French were building a large vessel at Cadaracqui, with the design of attacking his post.(1) Copies of these letters, Mr. Clinton now laid before the assembly, for its perusal and careful consideration.
The apparent good temper, however, with which the proceedings between the executive and the assembly had thus far been conducted, was destined to be of short duration. The house having on the sixteenth sent up to the council for its approval u an act for paying several demands made on the colony," the latter replied, on the eighteenth, by sending Colonel Johnson to request of that body the vouchers for the several demands provided for in the bill. This was applying the torch to the powder. The house flamed at once. It immediately resolved, that "the demand was of an extraordinary and unprecedented nature" and that its consideration should be postponed until after the first of the ensuing May. No sooner had this action been communicated to the council, when they, in turn, becoming indignant, resolved that it was
(1) John Lindesay, founder of the Cherry Valley settlement, was a native of Scotland, and in December, 1730, received from his countryman, Governor Montgotterie, the commission of naval officer for the port of New York. He filled various other important offices, until, in 1744, Mr. Lindesay assumed the command of the fort at Oswego, Lieutenant Congreve resigning in his favor. In 1747, at the request of the Oswego traders and the Six Nations, Lieutenant Lindesay was continued in command of that post until 1749, when he was appointed Indian commissary and agent for Oswego, which latter situation he retained until his death, which occurred in the latter part of this year. At the time of his death, Mr. Lindsay was a lieutenant in Captain dark's company of Independent Fusileers.-Campbell's History of Tryon County.
their unquestionable right to call for the vouchers; inasmuch as the sum, sufficient for the demand, was to come out of the royal revenue, and that their consent was therefore necessary. They also resolved, that they would not proceed on the bill until the vouchers appeared before them ; and at the same sitting, in no very amiable state of mind, sent Colonel Johnson again to the house with a bill of their own, for "applying the sum of five hundred pounds, for the management of Indian affairs, and for repairing the garrison at Oswego." The passage of this bill by the council, as might have been foreseen, was not calculated to mollify the temper of the house inflamed, aft it was, by the demand of the council for the vouchers. The bill was therefore refused a second reading; and a motion was forthwith carried,-that inasmuch as the bill entrenched on the "great, essential and undoubted right of the representatives of the people of this colony to begin all bills for raising and disbursing of money, it should be rejected."(1) Directly upon the passage of this resolution, the house sent up to the governor an address, prepared in the same churlish manner as in times past. In it, the lack money for Indian affairs was greatly lamented-as if, indeed, it was not owing to themselves that a larger sum had not been voted. They even carried their spleen so far, as to hint that the governor had used the thousand pounds for purposes other than the public benefit; and that it was through his neglect that the Indian affairs were in such a condition. In conclusion, they threw upon the council the evil effects which would result from its refusal to pass the bill for the discharge of the colony debt ; and prayed the governor to pass straightway those of the bills which he approved. Three or four more days were taken up in wrangling and puerile resolves, until Mr. Clinton, who had learned by experience the folly of any farther altercation, and passed all the bills without farther discussion, and without any notice and to the astonishment of all,
(1) Minutes of the assembly.
dissolved the assembly. On the part of Mr. Clinton this was a master stroke of policy. The assembly were fairly caught. But having passed the support bill so early in the session, they were left without a remedy. This gratified Mr. Clinton and the other officers of the government; while the neglect of the colony creditors, added to the governor's party, already strengthened by the appointment of Colonel Johnson to the council, and Mr. Chambers to the second place on the bench."(1)
Meanwhile the French were planning still farther encroachments upon the territory of New York. Already they possessed Crown Point, La Presentation and Niagara, and encouraged by the pusillanimity which had allowed them to take possession of those posts, they were now meditating the establishment of a military and missionary post on the banks of Onondaga Lake, which, while it would secure a foothold in the very heart of the province, would also, they thought, greatly strengthen their influence over the Six Nations. Preliminary to this audacious step it was necessary that the Confederates, especially those residing in the immediate vicinity of the lake, should be courted into giving their consent. Accordingly the Jesuit emissaries insinuated themselves deeper than ever into the affections of that fickle people, and with such success, that at the close of the summer, several of the principal Onondagas had granted the desired permission.
Such a design, however, could not long escape the vigilance of Colonel Johnson, who no sooner heard through the Mohawks of the scheme afoot, when, braving the autumnal rains, he set off" for the old fireplace of the Confederacy, hoping, if possible, to defeat the machinations of La Galiasoniere and his wily priests. Arrived at Onondaga, he lost no time in summoning the chief men of that castle to a conference, in which after laying before them the dangerous consequences resulting from a French
settlement in the very center of their Confederacy, boldly desired them, as a proof of their esteem, to grant him Onondaga Lake with the land around it for two miles in width-promising them in return a handsome present, This sudden appearance of the colonel upset at once all the deep laid plans of the Jesuits. Mortified at being thus caught in the very act of lending an ear to their ancient enemies, the chiefs hung their heads and in confusion agreed to his proposition. A deed conveying the entire lake with its two miles of land, was accordingly made out On the spot, and signed by the entire castle, the latter receiving in return, the sum of three hundred and fifty pounds sterling. Immediately on his arrival home, the colonel who had in making this purchase no other object than that of securing the property to the crown, and the consequent defeat of the French, communicated an account of the transaction to Mr. Clinton,-at the same time offering the land to the government of New York at the same price which it had cost him. Refusing, however, to appreciate the important service which he had thus rendered, the assembly refused to reimburse him for the land; and the matter thus rested until the summer of 1753, when a minute was made in council, granting this tract to him and his heirs, by way of reimbursement for the sum advanced by him for the Indian department.(l) Otherwise than this, his debt from the colony was never paid.
(1) Manuscript council minutes.
Thanks to James F. Morrison for loaning his book for the purpose of putting it on the internet.
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