History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 6

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV.
PONTIAC’S WAR. THE TRIUMVIRATE MINISTRY CONTINUED.

MAY–SEPTEMBER 1763.

THE western territory, of which England believed itself in possession, was one continuous forest, interrupted only by rocks or prairies or waters, or an Indian cleared field for maize. The English came into the illimitable waste as conquerors, and here and there in the solitudes, all the way from Niagara to the falls of the St. Mary and the banks of the St. Joseph’s, a log fort with a picketed enclosure was the emblem of their pretensions. In their haste to supplant the French, they were blind to danger, their posts were often left dependent on the Indians for supplies, and were too remote from each other for mutual support. The smaller garrisons consisted only of an ensign, a sergeant, and perhaps fourteen men. Yet, feeble as they were, they alarmed the red man, for they implied the design to occupy the country which for ages had been his own. His canoe could no longer quiver on the eddying current of the St. Mary’s, or pass into the clear waters of Lake Huron, or paddle through the strait that connects Lakes Huron and Erie, or be carried across the portage to the waters of the Ohio, without passing the British flag. What right to his forest could the English derive from victories over the French? The native race must vindicate their right to their own heritage.

The conspiracy began with the lower nations, and spread from the Niagara and the Alleghanies to the Mississippi and Lake Superior. It was discovered in March 1763, by the officer in command at Miami, who, “after a long and troublesome” interview, obtained from the Miami chiefs the bloody belt,

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