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Mary's rivers, but was coldly received; most of the chiefs being dissatisfied with the policy of the Americans toward them, and prejudiced through English misrepresentation. Full accounts of his adventures among the tribes reached Gov. St. Clair at Kaskaskia in June, 1790. Being satisfied that there was no prospect of effecting a general peace with the Indians of Indiana, he resolved to visit Gen. Harmar at his headquarters at Fort Washington and consult with him on the means of carrying an expedition against the hostile Indians; but before leaving he intrusted Winthrop Sargent, the Secretary of the Territory, with the execution of the resolutions of Congress regarding the lands and settlers on the Wabash. He directed that officer to proceed to Vincennes, lay out a county there, establish the militia and appoint the necessary civil and military officers. Accordingly Mr. Sargent went to Vincennes and organized Camp Knox, appointed the officers, and notified the inhabitants to present their claims to lands. In establishing these claims the settlers found great difficulty, and concerning this matter the Secretary in his report to the President wrote as follows:
“Although the lands and lots which were awarded to the inhabitants appeared from very good oral testimony to belong to those persons to whom they were awarded, either by original grants, purchase or inheritance, yet there was scarcely one case in twenty where the title was complete, owing to the desultory manner in which public business had been transacted and some other unfortunate causes. The original concessions by the French and British commandants were generally made upon a small scrap of paper, which it has been customary to lodge in the notary's office, who has seldom kept any book of record, but committed the most important land concerns to loose sheets, which in process of time have come into possession of persons that have fraudulently destroyed them; or, unacquainted with their consequence, innocently lost or trifled them away. By French usage they are considered family inheritances, and often descend to women and children. In one instance, and during the government of St. Ange here, a royal notary ran off with all the public papers in his possession, as by a certificate produced to me. And I am very sorry further to observe that in the office of Mr. Le Grand, which continued from 1777 to 1787, and where should have been the vouchers for important land transactions, the records have been so falsified, and there is such gross fraud and forgery, as to invalidate all evidence and information which I might have otherwise acquired from his papers."
Mr. Sargent says there were about 150 French families at Vincennes in 1790. The heads of all these families had been at one time vested with certain titles to a portion of the soil; and while the Secretary was busy in straightening out these claims, he received a petition signed by 80 Americans, asking for the confirmation of grants of land ceded by the Court organized by Col. John Todd under the authority of Virginia. With reference to this cause, Congress, March 3,1791, empowered the Territorial Governor, in cases where land had been actually improved and cultivated under a supposed grant for the same, to confirm to the persons who made such improvements the lands supposed to have been granted, not, however, exceeding the quantity of 400 acres to any one person.
THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR.
Soon after the discovery of the mouth of the Mississippi in 1682, the government of France began to encourage the policy of establishing a line of trading posts and missionary stations extending through the West from Canada and the great lakes to Louisiana; and this policy was maintained, with partial success, for about 75 years.
British power was the rival upon which the French continually kept their eye. Of course a collision of arms would result in a short time, and this commenced about 1755. In 1760 Canada, including the lake region, fell into the hands of the British. During the war occurred Braddock's defeat, the battles of Niagara, Crown Point and Lake George, and the death of brave Wolfe and Montcalm. Sept. 12, this year, Major Robert Rogers, a native of New Hampshire, a provincial officer and then at the height of his reputation, received orders from Sir Jeffrey Amherst to ascend the lakes with a detachment of rangers, and take possession, in the name of his Britannic Majesty, of Detroit, Michilimackinac, and other Western posts included in the capitulation of Montreal. He left the latter place on the following day with 200 rangers in 15 whale boats. Nov. 7 they reached the mouth of a river (“ Chogage”) on the southern coast of lake Erie, where they were met by Pontiac, the Indian chief, who now appears for the first time upon the pages of Michigan history. He haughtily demanded of Rogers why he should appear in his realm with his forces without his permission. The Major informed him that the English had obtained permission of Canada, and that he was on his way to Detroit to publish the fact and to restore a general peace to white men and Indians alike. The next day Pontiac signified his willingness to live at peace with the English, allowing them to remain in his country, provided they paid hiin due respect. He knew that French power was on the ware, and that it was to the interest of his tribes to establish an early peace with the new power. The Indians, who had collected at the month of Detroit, reported 400 strong, to resist the coming of the British forces, were easily influenced by Pontiac to yield the situation to Rogers. Even the French commandant at Detroit, Capt. Beletre, was in a situation similar to that of the Indians, and received the news of the defeat of the French from Major Rogers. He was indignant and incredulous, and tried to rouse the fury of his old-time friends, the Indians, but found them “faithless ” in this hour of his need. He surrendered with an ill grace, amid the yells of several hundred Indian warriors. It was a source of great amazement to the Indians to see so many men surrender to so few. Nothing is more effective in gaining the respect of Indians than a display of power, and the above proceedings led them to be overawed by English prowess. They were astonished also at the forbearance of the conquerors in not killing their vanquished enemies on the spot.
This surrender of Detroit was on the 29th of November, 1760. The posts elsewhere in the lake region north and west were not reached until some time afterward. The English now thought they had the country perfectly in their own hands and that there was but little trouble ahead; but in this respect they were mistaken. The French renewed their efforts to circulate reports among the Indians that the English intended to take all their land from them, etc. The slaughter of the Monongahela, the massacre at Fort William Henry and the horrible devastation of the Western frontier, all bore witness to the fact that the French were successful in prejudicing the Indians against the British, and the latter began to have trouble at various points. The French had always been in the habit of making presents to the Indians, keeping them supplied with arms, ammunition, etc., and it was not their policy to settle upon their lands. The British, on the other hand, now supplied them with nothing, frequently insulting them when they appeared around the forts. Everything conspired to fix the Indian population in their prejudices against the British Government. Even the, seeds of the American Revolution were scattered into the West and began to grow.
The first Indian chief to raise the war-whoop was probably Kiashuta, of the Senecas, but Pontiac, of the Ottawas, was the great George Washington of all the tribes to systemize and render effectnal the initial inovements of the approaching storm. His home was about eight miles above Detroit, on Pechee Island, which looks ont upon the waters of Lake St. Clair. He was a well-formed man, with à countenance indicating a high degree of intelligence. In 1746 he had successfully defended Detroit against the northern tribes, and it is probable he was present and assisted in the defeat of Braddock.
About the close of 1762 he called a general council of the tribes, sending out embassadors in all directions, who with the war-belt of wampum and the tomahawk went from village to village and camp to cainp, informing the sachems everywhere that war was impending, and delivering to them the message of Pontiac. They all approved the message, and April 27, 1763, a grand council was held near Detroit, when Pontiac stood forth in war paint and delivered “the great speech of the campaign. " The English were slow to perceive any dangerous conspiracy in progress, and when the blow was struck, nine out of twelve of the British posts were surprised and destroyed! Three of these were within the bounds of this State.
The first prominent event of the war was the
MASSACRE AT FORT MICHILIMACKINAC,
on the northernmost point of the southern peninsula, the site of the present city of Mackinaw. This Indian outrage was one of the most ingeniously devised and resolutely executed schemes in American history. The Chippewas (or Ojibways) appointed one of their big ball plays in the vicinity of the post, and invited and inveigled as many of the occupants as they could to the scene of play, then fell upon the unsuspecting and ungnarded English in the most brutal
For the details of this horrible scene we are indebted to Alexander Henry, a trader at that point, who experienced several most blood-cardling escapes from death and scalping at the hands of the savages. The result of the massacre was the death of about 70 out of 90 persons. The Ottawa Indians, who occupied mainly the eastern portion of the lower peninsula, were not consulted by the Chippewas with reference to attacking Michilimackinac, and were consequently so enraged that they espoused the cause of the English, through spite; and it was through their instrumentality that Mr. Henry and some of his comrades were saved from death and conveyed east
to the regions of civilization. Of Mr. Henry's narrow escapes we give the following succinct account. Instead of attending the ball play of the Indians he spent the day writing letters to his friends, as a canoe was to leave for the East the following day. While thus engaged, he heard an Indian war cry and a noise of general confusion. Looking out of the window, he saw a crowd of Indians within the fort, that is, within the village palisade, who were cutting down and scalping every Englishman they found. He seized a fowling-piece which he had at hand, and waited a moment for the signal, the drum beat to arms. In that dreadful interval he saw several of his countrymen fall under the tomahawk and struggle between the knees of an Indian who held him in this manner to scalp him while still alive. Mr. Henry heard no signal to arnis; and seeing that it was useless to undertake to resist 400 Indians, he thought only of shelter for himself. He saw many of the Canadian inhabitants of the fort calmly looking on, neither opposing the Indians nor suffering injury, and ho therefore concluded he might find safety in some of their houses. He stealthily ran to one occupied by Mr. Langlade and family, who were at their windows beholding the bloody scene. Mr. L. scarcely dared to harbor him, but a Pawnee slave of the former concealed him in the garret, locked the stairway door and took away the key. In this situation Mr. Henry obtained through an aperture a view