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here to the information furnished by Rogers, who indeed states that Pontiac (often intimated to him that he should be content to reign in his country in subordination to the King of Great Britain, and was willing to pay him such annual acknowledgment as he was able, in furs, and to call him his uncle."* But, without in the least disparaging the honesty of Rogers, we are inclined to dispute the propriety of what we suppose to have been rather his own inference than the chicftain's declaration. A disregard to the niceties of expression, on the part of both speaker and hearer, was no uncommon thing at interviews of this kind, one party being always eager, and both frequently ignorant enough, had they even tolerable means of communicating together in language at all.
The context confirms this opinion. It appears singular, at first glance, that Pontiac should propose calling the British king his uncle. An appellation, indeed, as the Iroquois orators told the English at Albany, “signified nothing" in itself, and yet, as referring to the term Father, applied by Minavavana and the northern Indians generally 10 his Christian Majesty, it did signify, at least, that Pontiac meant to pay a slighter deference to the British king than to the French. No allegiance was acknowledged to either. As Minavavana said, "the Indians had no Father among the white men”-passing that courtesy for what it was worth-- but the King of France.” That, however, did not prevent them from owning and claiming their own woods and mountains. It did not entitle the French king to command the services instead of “employing" the assistance of their young men. It did not blind them to the fact, that although the English had conquered the French, they had not conquered them.t It makes the matter still more clear in regard to what was the understanding of Pontiac, and what ought to have been that of Rogers, that, according to his own statement, the chieftain “assured him (on the same occasion when the language last referred to is said to have been uttered,) that he was inclined to live peaceably with the English while they used him as he deserved, and to encourage their settling in his country, but intimated that if they treated him with neglect, he should shut
the way, and exclude them from it.” In short, concludes the same writer, “his whole conversation sufficiently indicated that he was far from considering himself a conquered prince, and that he expected to be treated with the respect and honor due to a king or emperor by all who came into his country or treated with him. I
On the whole, we have seen no evidence, and we know of no reason for presuming, that he was ever any further attached to "the British interest,” or rather any otherwise affected towards the idea of becoming attached, than is indicated by the very independent declara. tion made as above stated. In regard to the question why he never did become attached to the British interest,—taking that for the correct representation of the fact,-history is silent, as unfortunately it ,
* Rogers' Account, p. 242. London edition. † Speech of Minavavana.
| Rogers' Account, p. 242.
is in regard to most of the remarkable occurrences on the frontiers which accompanied and followed his enterprise. The conjectures of any one man, who has intelligently investigated and reflected upon such history as there is, may be worth as much as those of any other. It seems to be probable, however, that although hostilities might have been prevented by a system of good management on the part of the English, (in which their predecessors could have given them a lesson,) they did not arise from any particular acts of aggression.
Pontiac reasoned as well as felt. He reasoned as Philip had done before him, and as Tecumseh will be found to have done since. He had begun to apprehend danger from this new government and people; danger to his own dominions and to the Indian interest at large; danger from their superiority in arms, their ambition, their eagerness in possessing themselves of every military position on the northern waters; and we may add, also, their want of that ostensible cordiality towards the Indians personally, to which the latter had been so much accustomed and attached in the golden days of the French, and which they are apt to regard as a necessary indication of good faith as of good will. In the language of the Chippewa orator, the French had lived in the same lodge with them. They had sent them missionaries, and invited them to councils, and made them presents, and talked and traded with them, and manifested an interest in their affairs,—always suspected by the Indians less, and yet always effecting their own purposes better than any other people.
The English, on the other hand, if they committed no aggressions (the expedition of Rogers was perhaps considered one, but that Pontiac forgave,)-yet manifested but a slight disposition for national courtesy or for individual intercourse, or for a beneficial commerce of any description. In other words, they “neglected,” to use Pontiac's phrase, all those circumstances which made the neighborhood of the French agreeable, and which might have made their own at least tolerable. The conduct of the latter never gave rise to suspicion. Theirs never gave rest to it.
Thus, we suppose, the case might present itself to the mind of the Ottawa chieftain. And while such was the apparent disposition, or indifference to any disposition in particular, of the English towards the Indians, and such the consequent liability, if not the reasonable prospect on the part of the latter if the former should occupy Canada, Pontiac was not likely to forget that they had conquered the French. He saw, too, that they were rapidly and firmly establishing their new dominion by movements which, at all events, did not purport to promote the interest of the Indians. And he knew, no doubt,-certainly he soon ascertained, that whereas the French of Canada and the colonies of New England, by their action upon each other, had left the third party in a good measure disengaged,--the new comers were themselves from Old England, if not New,-speaking the same language (and that a strange one to the natives), subject to the same government, and ready at all times to be very conveniently supplied and supported, to an indefinite extent, by those powerful southern colonies which had long before destroyed or driven off the Indians from their own borders.
So Pontiac reasoned, and he looked into futurity far enough to foresee that ultimate fatal result to his race, which now was the only time, if indeed there was yet time, to prevent. Immediate occasions of hostility there might be besides, but these must be the subject of mere speculation. Aflections which do him honor predisposed him to believe that the English had done injustice to his old friends the French, and the French might further endeavor to persuade him that they had also done injustice to himself. But it was certain “they had treated him with neglect.” And, therefore, following his own principle, as well as the impulse of pride, he resolved to “shut up the way." How far he succeeded, and by what means, will be our next subjects of consideration.
PONTIAC'S PLAN OF CAMPAIGN-UE COMMENCES ACTIVE PREPARATIONS
COUNCIL OF THE OTTAWAS-DREAN OR THE DELAWARE--MAXIMS PRO. MULGATED BY PONTIAC-COMMENCEMENT OF THE WAR-REDUCTION OP DETROIT UNDERTAKEN BY PONTIAC IN PERSON-LETTER FROM DETROIT.
The plan of operations adopted by Pontiac, for effecting the extinc. tion of the English power, evinces an extraordinary genius, as well as a courage and energy of the highest order. This was a sudden and contemporaneous attack
upon all the British posts on the lakes-at St. Joseph, Quiatenon, Green Bay, Michilimackinac, Detroit, the Maumee, and the Sandusky--and also upon the forts at Niagara, Presqu'Isle, Le Beul, Veranro, and Pittsburg. Most of the fortifica. tions at these places were slight, being rather commercial depots than military establishments. Still against the Indians they were strong. holds; and the positions had been so judiciously selected by the French, that to this day they command the great avenues of communication to the world of woods and waters in the remote north and west. It was manifest to Pontiac, familiar as he was with the geo. graphy of this vast tract of country, and with the practical if not technical maxims of war, that the possession or the destruction of these posts--saying nothing of their garrisons--would be emphatically "shutting up the way.” If the surprise could be simultaneous, so that every English banner which waved upon a line of thousands of miles should be prostrated at the same moment, the garrisons would be unable to exchange assistance; while, on the other hand, the failure of one Indian detachment would have no effect to discourage another. Certainly some might succeed. Probably the war might begin and be terminated with the same single blow, and then Pontiac would again be the lord and king of the broad land of his ancestors.
The measures taken in pursuance of these calculations were worthy of the magnificent scheme. The chieftain felt confident that success arould multiply friends and allies to his cause. But he knew equally
well that friends and allies to his cause were as necessary to obtain success. Some preliminary principles must be set forth, to show what his cause was; and however plausible it might appear in theory, exer. tions must also be made to give assurance of its feasibility in practice. A belligerant combination of some kind must be formed in the outset, and the more extensive the better.
Pontiac commenced operations with his own tribe, the Ottawas being, for several reasons, peculiarly under his control, at the same time that their influence over other tribes was hardly interior to his own influence over themselves. Some of these tribes had fought with them against the English not many years before, and the connection between them was so apparent in the time of Major Rogers, that he considered them as “formed into a sort of empire.” He expressly states, also, that the emperor, as he supposed Pontiac then to be, was “elected from the eldest tribe, which is the Ottawas, some of whom inhabit near our fort at Detroit, but are mostly further westward, towards the Mississippi.” He might well add; that Pontiac “ had the largest empire and greatest authority of any Indian chief that has appeared on the continent since our acquaintance with it.” The truth probably was, that the tribes here described as confederates were most of them related to cach other by descent, more or less remotely. Soine were intimately associated. All would be rather disposed to act together in any great project, as they had already done, (and as most of them have since, during the American Revolution and during the last war with Great Britain.) Still, such was and is the nature of Indian government, that it was necessary for Pontiac to obtain the separate concurrence and confidence of each. To gain over the Ottawas first was not to strengthen his authority, indeed, but it was adding much to his influence.
The Ottawas, then, were called together, and the plan was disclosed, explained and enforced, with all the eloquence and cunning which Pontiac could bring to his task. He appealed to the fears, the hopes, the ambition, the cupidity of his hearers--their regard for the common interest of the race, their hatred of the English, and their gratitude and love for the French. We are told by a modern historian, that some of the Ottawas had been disgraced by blows.* Such a suggestion, whether well founded or not, might probably be made, and would of course have its effect. So would the display of a belt, which the chieftain exhibited, and which he professed to have received from the King of France, urging him to drive the British from the country, and to open the paths for the return of the French.
These topics having been skilfully managed, and the Ottawas warmly engaged in the cause, a grand council of the neighboring tribes was convened at the river Aux Ecorces. Here Pontiac again exerted his talents with distingnished effect. With a profound knowledge of the Indian character, and especially aware of the great power of superstition upon their minds, he related, among other things, a dream, in which the Great Spirit (the orator said) had secretly disclosed to a Delaware Indian the conduct he expected' his red children to pursue. Minute instructions had been graciously given, suitable to the existing crisis in their fortunes, and remarkably coincident, it will be observed, with the principles and projects of the chieftain himself. They were to abstain from the use of ardent spirits. They were also to abandon the use of all English manufactures, and to resume their bows and arrows, and the skins of the animals for clothing. It is needless to eulogise the sagacity which dictated both these proposals: “and why," the orator concluded, “why, said the Great Spirit indignantly to the Delaware,—do you suffer these dogs in red clothing to enter your country, and take the land I have given you? Drive them from it!Drive them!—When you are in distress I will help you!"*
* Discourse of Govervor Cass.
It is not difficult to imagine the effect which this artful appeal to prejudice and passion might have on the inflammable temperaments of a multitude of credulous and excited savages. The name of Pontiac alone was a host; but the Great Spirit was for them,-it was impossible to fail. A plan of campaign was concerted on the spot, and belts and speeches were sent to sccure the co-operation of the Indians along the whole line of the frontier.
Neither the precise number nor power of those who actually joined the combination can now be determined. The Ottawas, the Chippewas, and the Pottawatamies were among the most active. The two former of these had sent six hundred warriors in one body to the defence of Fort Du Quesne. The Ottawas of D'Arbre Croche, alone, mustered two hundred and fifty fighting men. The Miamies were engaged. So were the Sacs, the Ottagamies (or Foxes,) the Menominies, the Wyandots, the Mississages, the Shawances; and, what was still more to the purpose, a large number of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Delawares, and of the Six Nations of New York. The alliance of the two last named parties-in itself the result of a master-piece ol' policywas necessary to complete that vast system of attack
which comprehended all the British positions from Niagara to Green Bay and the Potomac.
The plan was at length thoroughly matured. The work of cxtirpation commenced on or about the same day, from north to south, and from east to west. Nine of the British forts were captured. Some of the garrisons were completely surprised, and massacred on the spot; a few individuals, in other cases, escaped. The officer who commanded at Presqu'Isle defended himself two days, during which time the savages are said to have fired his block-house about fifty times, but the soldiers extinguished the flames as often. It was then undermined, and a train was laid for an explosion, when a capitulation was proposed and agreed upon, under which a part of the garrison was carried captive to the northwest. The officer was afterwards given up at Detroit.
A great number of English traders were taken, on their way, from all quarters of the country, to the different forts; and their goods, as well as those of the residents at such places, and the stores at the
* Discourse of Governor Cass.