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young men, impatient to take them at their word and proceed at once, but he soon found that he was in danger of offending the ideas of the most dignified and punctilious diplomatists in the world. Hence, chafing with inward impatience, he was fain to bide his time during the three days consumed by his allies, in discussing the expedition, collecting their important belts, and making preparation. At last, much to his relief, they announced their readiness to proceed, but also said they had decided that but three of their number and a hunter should accompany him, as a greater escort would be likely to excite suspicion. There was probably more reason for this temporizing than the mere desire to conduct affairs of state in a decent and orderly manner.

The situation of the Indian tribes of the Ohio valley was critical in the extreme, and they were the first to recognize the fact. They were hemmed in on either side by civilizations foreign to their traditions, and which they could but recognize as superior to their own rude devices of war. These two alien forces were in antagonism with each other, and for what? Even an Indian could discern that the wooded hills, the rich plains and the broad streams of the central valley, formed the object of the strife. It is not improbable that the wisest of them recognized the uselcssness of armed struggle against the white invader. At all events they felt the danger which threatened their race; they saw impending a struggle, of which their possessions were to be the scene, into which they must almost inevitably be drawn, and which was likely to result in the expulsion of one or the other contestant from the land.

It did not require the perspicuity of a Talleyrand, to see that, under such circumstances, the question of alliance was a very important one; if made with the victors, it promised the Indians, for the time being at least, security in their homes and lands; if, on the other hand, they should range themselves with the losing side, there seemed nothing before them but spoliation, exile and death. What did they care for French or English? One was the upper, the other the nether millstone; their people, like grains of wheat, were falling between the two, to be mercilessly crushed and destroyed. What were their treaties worth, that they should be kept? These people, one and all, were invaders of a continent, theirs from time immemorial; already the whole sea coast had been wrested from them, and now there was to be a war, to determine which of their despoilers was to possess other lands to which only they had claim.

There is little doubt that the Half King and his colleagues thought well before they took the step that should irrevocably commit them to antagonism with the French. They knew that, should they go to the lake forts, and offer their friendship and 'alliance, they would still be received with open arms, loaded with gifts and protected, so far as the French power could protect them. The French had been much more active than the English; they were already strongly placed in the valley, and had the advantage of being

CHAPTER IV.

THE EXPEDITION TO FRENCH CREEK.

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T one more effort was made to come to a pacific settlement. A mes

senger, Captain Trent, was sent to the French commander in the val. ley, to demand the withdrawal of his forces and traders from the territory of the king of England. Trent proved a coward and, finding that the French had already begun active operations, by an attack upon the friendly Indians at Piqua, returned to Virginia without having even made an attempt to fulfill his mission. This placed the Governor and the Ohio company in a quandary. For a long time no one could be found, willing to undertake the hazardous task of fulfilling Trent's abandoned mission. At last Washing. ton volunteered and his services were eagerly accepted. He received his credentials on the 30th day of October, 1753, and set off on the same day upon his toilsome and dangerous expedition. According to his instructions he was to proceed first to Logtown, confer with the Half King and other friendly chiefs, then push his way with all despatch, accompanied by such escort of Indians as he could obtain, to the headquarters of the French commandant, deliver his written communication, receive an answer, if one were furnished within a week, then make the best of his way homeward. He was also charged to make every observation and inquiry possible without exciting suspicion, directed to ascertaining the force of the French, the number and situation of their posts, and the facilities which they might possess for a movement, by land or water, upon the English frontiers. This was no light charge for a man experienced in affairs of the kind; for one of but twenty-two years, and utterly without such experience, it seems almost absurd.

Washington proceeded at once to Logtown; the chiefs expressed themselves as devoted to the cause of their “English brothers,” said they would accompany him and return all speech belts to the French, and give him all the assistance in their power. He was, after the fashion of

young men, impatient to take them at their word and proceed at once, but he soon found that he was in danger of offending the ideas of the most dignified and punctilious diplomatists in the world. Hence, chafing with inward impatience, he was fain to bide his time during the three days consumed by his allies, in discussing the expedition, collecting their important belts, and making preparation. At last, much to his relief, they announced their readiness to proceed, but also said they had decided that but three of their number and a hunter should accompany him, as a greater escort would be likely to excite suspicion. There was probably more reason for this temporizing than the mere desire to conduct affairs of state in a decent and orderly manner. The situation of the Indian tribes of the Ohio valley was critical in the extreme, and they were the first to recognize the fact. They were hemmed in on either side by civilizations foreign to their traditions, and which they could but recognize as superior to their own rude devices of war. These two alien forces were in antagonism with each other, and for what? Even an Indian could discern that the wooded hills, the rich plains and the broad streams of the central valley, formed the object of the strife. It is not improbable that the wisest of them recog. nized the uselessness of armed struggle against the white invader. At all events they felt the danger which threatened their race; they saw impending a struggle, of which their possessions were to be the scene, into which they must almost inevitably be drawn, and which was likely to result in the expulsion of one or the other contestant from the land.

It did not require the perspicuity of a Talleyrand, to see that, under such circumstances, the question of alliance was a very important one; if made with the victors, it promised the Indians, for the time being at least, security in their homes and lands; if, on the other hand, they should range themselves with the losing side, there seemed nothing before them but spoliation, exile

What did they care for French or English? One was the upper, the other the nether millstone; their people, like grains of wheat, were falling between the two, to be mercilessly crushed and destroyed. What were their treaties worth, that they should be kept? These people, one and all, were invaders of a continent, theirs from time immemorial; already the whole sea coast had been wrested from them, and now there was to be a war, to determine which of their despoilers was to possess other lands to which only

and death.

they had claim.

There is little doubt that the Half King and his colleagues thought well before they took the step that should irrevocably commit them to antagonism with the French. They knew that, should they go to the lake forts, and offer their friendship and alliance, they would still be received with open arms, loaded with gifts and protected, so far as the French

so far as the French power could protect them. The French had been much more active than the English; they were already strongly placed in the valley, and had the advantage of being

1

able to move a large force by water into its very heart, while the English, before they could gain the same ground, must make the weary and difficult march over the mountains, subjected at every step to ambuscades. All these considerations were doubtless weighed, during those three days. What turned the balance in favor of the English will never be known, but turned it was and very fortunately, for the service of the Half King and his warriors was of inestimable value in the war that followed.

Before setting out from Logtown, Washington obtained some interesting and important information. From an Indian trader named Frazier, who had recently been driven by the French from the Indian village of Venango, where he had a trading store and gun shop, was acquired a very just idea of the force of the French, and the further information that their commander had recently died, and that they were now in winter quarters. Three French soldiers, who had set out from New Orleans for the upper river posts, with a convoy of provisions, having deserted, passed through Logtown and gave him a very full statement of the number, position, and strength of the Mississippi defenses. From the Half King he learned that the French were concentrating their forces at the headwaters of the Allegheny, preparatory to descending the river in force, in the spring, by means of bateaux and canoes. “They have built," said Tanacharisson, “two forts, one on French creek, and the other at its mouth, fifteen miles distant, and connected the two by a wagon road." The direct way to these; forts, at one of which the commander would be found, was impassable, by reason of recent rains, and it would be necessary to go by way of Vena:go, which would so prolong the journey as to require six days for its accomplishment.

On the 30th day of November the little party set out upon its march, over roads in the worst possible condition—so bad, inderd, that Venango, though but seventy miles distant, was not reached until the 4th day of the following month. There they found the French flag flying, and, as officer in command, the same Joncaire upon whom the French had relied to break up the grand council at Logtown. Joncaire was at first evidently willing to be regarded as in command of the Ohio, but, finding the mission to be one of real importance, referred them to his superior officer at the next fort. He received the party with the greatest politeness, and invited Washington and his interpreter, Van Braam (the quondam master of fence), to dine with himself and his brother officers that evening. At the appointed time all sat down to a very jovial meal; the bottle passed freely; Washington having the good sense to drink no more than courtesy demanded, for the most part leaving Van Braam to represent him in that particular, an office for which the taste and capacity of the old Dutchman amply qualified him The Frenchmen were not so discreet, and, after the meal had advanced to a certain point, became very communicative regarding the plans and intentions of their supern:

T! " SICH d their determination to take posses

sion of the Ohio, to drive out all settlers and traders, and to establish the supremacy which they claimed as belonging to France by virtue of the discoveries of La Salle.

Washington had wisely, and, thus far, successfully, endeavored to prevent his Indian companions from falling into Joncaire's company. In the morning, probably through Van Braam's indiscretion, Joncaire found that the Half King was one of Washington's escort. He expressed the greatest surprise that the sachem should come to Venango without visiting him, and insisted that he and the two chiefs that were his companions, should at once be brought to his quarters to share in a feast. The three came, and Joncaire, understanding as he did every phase of the Indian character, plied them alternately with gifts and liquor until Tanacharisson was, metaplacrically speaking, under the table, his confreres in a state not much to be preferred, and all loud in maudlin praise of French liberality and friendliness. From all this Washington escaped at last, richer by much information, poorer by the dubious condition and loyalty of his red allies.

Upon the following day the Half King came to him very much ashamed of his exploit, and full of protestations of good faith. At this point an immediate movement seemed easy, but, a heavy rain storm coming up, it was necessarily delayed, and the Indians of the party subjected still farther to influences that Washington could not but know were very dangerous. Tanacharisson declared that he intended to make his speech, relinquishing the friendship of the French and returning the speech belts, to the subordinate, Joncaire, rather than to the general officer, and persisted, in spite of Washington's objections, in at once so doing. Joncaire very cleverly managed to evade acceptance of the belts, and referred the chief to the commandant on French creek. During the whole of that day and the next, the party was detained at Venango, by solicitations of Joncaire, directed at the Indians, and when, on the morning of December 7th, they set out, it was only to find themselves accompanied by a French officer, named La Force, and three soldiers, who pleaded some excuse for the journey, but evidently went as a foil to Washington's influence with the chiefs.

Four days more were occupied in reaching the fort, which was found to be guarded by strong palisades and armed with artillery. A new commandant—the Chevalier Legardeur de St. Pierre,—was found in charge.

He received Washington with all the ceremony usual to such an occasion, and thus gave the young man his first view of civilized diplomacy. The chevalier declined to receive or examine the papers presented, until the arrival of the officer whom he had lately relieved. This occurred within a few hours, when the communication of the Governor was received by the two, who

retired to a private room and read it, by the assistance of their

After this was over Washington and Van Braam were called the translation compared and corrected. The purport of

translator. in and

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