Haughty Conquerors: Amherst and the Great Indian Uprising of 1763

By William R. Nester | Go to book overview
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tiac politely refused with a tacit admission of how far he had fallen: "I have no complaint whatever against the English. It is only my young men who have shamed me. This has obliged me to leave my village. It is solely against my own nation that I am offended, by several insults they have made me, saying that I was never chief."9

Pontiac's death was filled with tragic irony. The man who more than anyone else led the Indian uprising of 1763 would die not on the battlefield against the British invaders but in an Indian village by one of his own race. In March 1769, Pontiac and 30 warriors arrived at Cahokia. Trouble soon brewed between Pontiac and the local tribes, especially the Peoria, who decided to assassinate the fallen chief and drive off his followers. On April 20, the nephew of Peoria Chief Makatachinga, or Black Dog, slinked up behind Pontiac as he walked down the street and bashed in his skull with a war club. Pontiac probably died unaware of any danger and devoid of any pain. Adding to the irony, Pontiac was most likely buried not in wild nature but across the river in an unconsecrated grave in downtown St. Louis.10

Perhaps the most appropriate way to end this tale is to quote Pontiac's farewell address in the play "Ponteach," attributed to Robert Rogers:

The torrent rises, and the tempest blows;
Where will this rough rude storm of ruin end?
What crimson floods are yet to drench the earth?
What new formed mischiefs hover in the air?
And point their stings at this devoted head?
Has fate exhausted all her stores of wrath?
Or has she other vengeance in reserve?
What can she more? My sons, my name is gone;
Nothing remains but an afflicted King,
That might be pitied by Earth's greatest wretch . . .
Was I not Ponteach, was I not a King,
Such giant mischiefs would not gather round me.
And since I'm Ponteach, since I am a King,
I'll shew myself superior to them all;
I'll rise above this hurricane of fate,
And shew my courage to the Gods themselves.11

Howard Peckham, Pontiac and the Indian Uprising ( Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1947), 239.
George Croghan to Lords of Trade [ January 1764?], in E. B. O'Callaghan and Berthold Fernow, eds., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York (hereafter cited as NYCD), 15 vols. ( Albany, N.Y.: Weed, Parsons, and Co., 1856- 1887), 7:603, 602-7.
Ourry return of killed or taken in Department of Fort Pitt, September 30, 1763, in Sylvester K. Stevens, Donald H. Kent, Autumn L. Leonard, Louis M. Waddell


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