The Appalachian Indian Frontier: The Edmond Atkin Report and Plan of 1755

By Wilbur R. Jacobs; Edmond Atkin | Go to book overview

they were fortifying lands belonging to the English. Then followed the skirmish with Jumonville, and later the capitulation of Washington at Fort Necessity. The young commander began his humiliating retreat on the fourth of July, 1754, not realizing that he was to help make that date a great one for a newborn nation.4

One year later the British suffered a greater defeat. In the forest near the river Monongahela a powerful army under the dogged Major General Edward Braddock was fiercely attacked by a force of some six hundred Indians and two hundred and twenty Canadians and French soldiers, who left the British with a routed army, a dying general, and the rising leadership of George Washington.5 After Braddock's demise there burst upon the frontier of 1755 a storm of blood and fire. Most of the Indians joined the victorious French, and not a British flag waved beyond the Appalachian mountains from Pennsylvania to the Carolinas.6

Confusion and maladministration in Indian affairs were partly responsible for the British predicament. It was fortunate indeed that Edward Braddock had appointed the able William Johnson as superintendent of Indian affairs for the North before the disaster on the Monongahela, for Johnson was able to prevent most of the Iroquois from later joining Montcalm.7 While Johnson thus saved the northern colonies from what appeared to be a military calamity, danger of attack nevertheless still threatened from the South, where numerous warriors were considering the feasibility of combining forces with the enemy. A plan of management for Indian affairs might forestall the possible alienation of the Cherokee, the Chickasaw, the Creeks, and their allies.

Into this depressing scene strode Edmond Atkin, Charleston merchant of the Indian trade, whose career is a most interesting story of success and failure in provincial America. Chiefly as a result of his writings on Indian affairs, particularly his well-organized scheme of Indian management which he submitted to the Board of Trade in 1755, Atkin suddenly appeared as a leading colonial official, the newly appointed southern superintendent of the Indians. From the time of his appointment in 1756, however, until his death in 1761, Atkin's importance as an actor in the drama of Indian diplomacy in the French and Indian War steadily declined. Although he negotiated a

____________________
4
Terms of the capitulation are found in Samuel Hazard (ed.), Pennsylvania Archives . . . (1st series), II ( Philadelphia, 1853), 146-47.
5
Winthrop Sargent (ed.), The History of an Expedition against Fort Du Quesne in 1755 . . . ( Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Vol. V [ Philadelphia, 1856]), p. 409.
6
For a discussion concerning Indian affairs after Braddock's defeat, see Wilbur R. Jacobs , Diplomacy and Indian Gifts, Anglo-French Rivalry along the Ohio and Northwest Frontiers, 1748-1763 ( Stanford, Calif., 1950), pp. 145 ff.
7
Johnson's efforts at this time were devoted to keeping the majority of the Iroquois neutral. See James Sullivan et al. (eds.), The Papers of Sir William Johnson ( New York, 1921-----) (hereafter cited as Johnson Papers), III, 269-75.

-xvi-

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The Appalachian Indian Frontier: The Edmond Atkin Report and Plan of 1755
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Introduction: Edmond Atkin Imperial Indian Superintendent xiii
  • The Edmond Atkin Report of 1755 xxxix
  • Editorial Note xl
  • The Plan for Imperial Indian Control 75
  • Index 97
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