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had been present at a conference between the French and Indians relative to the invasion of the West. * The assembly thereupon voted six hundred pounds for distribution among the tribes, besides two hundred for the present of condolence to the Twigtwees, already mentioned. This money was not sent, but Conrad Weiser was despatched in August to learn how things stood among the Ohio savages. f Virginia was moving also. In June, or earlier, a commissioner was sent westward to meet the French, and ask how they dared invade his Majesty's province. This messenger went to Logstown, but was afraid to go up the Alleghany, as instructed. I Trent was also sent out with guns, powder, shot, and clothing for the friendly Indians ; and then it was, that he learned the fact already stated, as to the claim of the French, and their burial of medals in proof of it. While these measures were taken, another treaty with the wild men of the debatable land was also in contemplation ; and in September, 1753, William Fairfax met their deputies at Winchester, Virginia, where he concluded a treaty, with the particulars of which we are unacquainted, but on which, we are told, was an indorsement, stating that such was their feeling, that he had not dared to mention to them either the Lancaster or the Logstown treaty ; $ a most sad comment upon the modes taken to obtain those grants.
Soon after this, no satisfaction being obtained from the Ohio, either as to the force, position, or purposes of the French, Robert Dinwiddie, then Governor of Virginia, determined to send to them another messenger, and selected a young surveyor, who, at the age of nineteen, had received the rank of major, and whose previous life had inured him to hardship and woodland ways, while his courage, cool judgment, and firm will, all fitted him for such a mission. This young man, as all know, was George Washington, who was twenty-one years and eight months old, at the time of the appointment. || With Gist as his guide, Washington left Will's Creek, where Cumberland now is, on the 15th of November, and, on the 22d, reached the Monongahela about ten miles above the Fork. Thence he went to Logstown, where he had long conferences with the chiefs of the Six Nations living in that neighbourhood. Here he learned the position of the French upon the Rivière auc Boufs, and the condition of their forts. He heard also that they had determined not to come down the river till the following spring, but had warned all the Indians, that, if they did not keep still, the whole French force would be turned upon them; and that, if they and the English were equally strong, they would divide the land between them, and cut off all the natives. These threats, and the mingled kindness and severity of the French, had produced the desired effect. Shingiss, king of the Delawares, feared to meet Washington, and the Shannoah (Shawanee) chiefs would not come either. *
* Sparks's Franklin, Vol. III. p. 219.
Sparks's Washington, Vol. II. p. 430.
1 Ibid. p. 230.
The truth was, these Indians were in a very awkward position. They could not resist the Europeans, and knew not which to side with ; so that a non-committal policy was much the safest, and they were wise not to return by Washington (as he desired they should) the wampum received from the French, as that would have been equivalent to breaking with them.
Finding that nothing could be done with these people, Washington left Logstown on the 30th of November, and, travelling amid cold and rain, reached Venango, an old Indian town at the mouth of French Creek, on the 4th of the next month. Here he found the French, with their wine, and self-confidence, and other comfortable things ; and here, through the rum, and the flattery, and the persuasions of his enemies, he very nearly lost all bis Indians, even his old friend the Half-king. Patience and good faith conquered, however, and, after another pull through mires and creeks, snow, rain, and cold, upon the 11th he reached the fort at the head of French Creek. Here he delivered Governor Dinwiddie's letter, took his observations, received his answer, and upon the 16th set out upon his return journey, having had to combat every art and trick, “which the most fruitful brain could suggest,” in order to get his Indians away with him. Flattery, and liquor, and guns, and provision were showered upon the Half-king and his comrades, while Washington himself received bows, and smirks, and compliments, and a plentiful store of creature-comforts also.
* Shingiss, or Shingask, was the great Delaware warrior of that day, and did the British much mischief. - See Heckewelder's Narrative, p. 64.
From Venango, Washington and Gist went on foot, leaving their Indian friends to the tender mercies of the French. of their hardships and dangers, we need say nothing ; every schoolboy knows them. * In spite of them, however, they reached Will's Creek, on the 6th of January, well and sound. During the absence of the young messenger, steps had been taken to fortify and settle the point formed by the junction of the Monongahela and Alleghany; and, while upon his return, he met “seventeen horses, loaded with materials and stores for a fort at the Fork of the Ohio,” and, soon after, "some families going out to settle.” These steps were taken by the Ohio Company; but, as soon as Washington returned with the letter of St. Pierre, the commander on French Creek, and it was perfectly clear that neither he nor his superiors meant to yield the West without a struggle, Governor Dinwiddie wrote to the Board of Trade, stating, that the French were building another fort at Venango, and that in March twelve or fifteen hundred men would be ready to descend the river with their Indian allies, for which purpose three hundred canoes had been collected ; and that Logstown was then to be made head-quarters, while forts were built in various other positions, and the whole country occupied. He also sent expresses to the governors of Pennsylvania and New York, calling upon them for assistance ; and, with the advice of his council, proceeded to enlist two companies, one of which was to be raised by Washington, the other by Trent, who was a frontier man. This last was to be raised upon the frontiers, and proceed at once to the Fork of the Ohio, there to complete in the best manner, and as soon as possible, the fort begun by the Ohio Company; and in case of attack, or any attempt to resist the settlements, or obstruct the works, those resisting were to be taken, or if need were, killed. I
While Virginia was taking these strong measures, which were fully authorized by the letter of the Earl of Holdernesse, Secretary of State, f written in the previous August, and which directed the governors of the various provinces, after representing to those who were invading his Majesty's
* Three out of five men who went with Washington, were so badly frost-bitten as to become unable to go on. — Sparks's Washington, Vol. II. p. 55.
+ Sparks's Washington, Vol. II. pp. 1, 431, 446.-Sparks's Franklin, Vol. III. p. 254.
Sparks's Franklin, Vol. III. p. 251, where the letter is given.
dominions the injustice of the act, to call out the armed force of the province, and repel force by force ; — while Virginia was thus acting, Pennsylvania was discussing the question, whether the French were invading his Majesty's dominions, – the governor on one side, and the Assembly on the other, * and New York was preparing to hold a conference with the Six Nations, in obedience to orders from the Board of Trade, written in September, 1753. † These orders had been sent out in consequence of the report in England, that the natives would side with the French, because dissatisfied with the occupancy of their lands by the English ; and simultaneous orders were sent to the other provinces, directing the governors to recommend their Assemblies to send commissioners to Albany to attend this grand treaty, which was to heal all wounds. New York, however, was more generous when called on by Virginia, than her neighbour on the south, and voted, for the assistance of that colony, five thousand pounds currency. I
It was now A pril, 1754. The fort at Venango was finished, and all along the line of French Creek troops were gathering ; and the wilderness echoed the strange sounds of a European camp, — the watchword, the command, the clang of muskets, the uproar of soldiers, the cry of the sutler ; and with these were mingled the shrieks of drunken Indians, won over from their old friendship by rum and soft words. Scouts were abroad, and little groups formed about the tents or huts of the officers, to learn the movements of the British. Canoes were gathering, and cannon were painfully hauled here and there. All was movement and activity among the old forests, and on hill-sides, covered already with young wild flowers, from Lake Erie to the Alleghany. In Philadelphia, meanwhile, Governor Hamilton, in no amiable mood, had summoned the Assembly, and asked them if they meant to help the King in the defence of his dominions; and had desired them, above all things, to do whatever they meant to do, quickly. The Assembly debated, and resolved to aid the King with a little money, and then debated again and voted not to aid him with any money at all, for some would not give less than ten thousand pounds, and others would not give more than five thousand pounds; and so, nothing being practicable, they adjourned upon the 10th of April until the 13th of May. *
* Sparks's Franklin, Vol. III. pp. 254 - 263. | Plain Facts, pp. 45, 46. – Sparks's Franklin, Vol. III. p. 253. # Massachusetts Historical Collections, 1st Ser. Vol. VII. p. 73.
In New York, a little, and only a little better spirit, was at work ; nor was this strange, as her direct interest was much less than that of Pennsylvania. Five thousand pounds, indeed was voted to Virginia ; but the Assembly questioned the invasion of his Majesty's dominions by the French, and it was not till June that the money voted was sent forward.
The Old Dominion, however, was all alive. As, under the provincial law, the militia could not be called forth to march more than five miles beyond the bounds of the colony, and as it was doubtful if the French were within Virginia, it was determined to rely upon volunteers. Ten thousand pounds had been voted by the Assembly ; so the two companies were now increased to six, and Washington was raised to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and made second in command under Joshua Fry. Ten cannon, lately from England, were forwarded from Alexandria ; wagons were got ready to carry westward provisions and stores through the heavy spring roads; and everywhere along the Potomac men were enlisting, - or weighing the Governor's proclamation, which promised to those that should serve in that war, two hundred thousand acres of land on the Ohio, – or, already enlisted, were gathering into grave knots, or marching forward to the field of action, or helping on the thirty cannon and eighty barrels of gunpowder, which the King had sent out for the western forts. Along the Potomac they were gathering, as far as to Will's Creek ; and far beyond Will's Creek, whither Trent had come for assistance, his little band of forty-one men were working away, in hunger and want, to fortify that point at the Fork of the Ohio, to which both parties were looking with deep interest. The first birds of spring filled the forests with their song; the red-bud and dogwood were here and there putting forth their flowers on the steep Alleghany hill-sides, and the swift river below swept by, swollen by the melting snows and April showers ; a few Indian scouts were seen, but no enemy seemed near at hand; and all was so quiet, that Frazier, an old Indian trader, who had been left by Trent in command of the new fort, ven
* Sparks's Franklin, Vol. III, pp. 264, 265.
# Massachusetts Historical Collections, 1st Ser. Vol. VII. pp. 72, 73, and note.