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The war between France and England, known as the "French and Indian War," began in 1754 and continued until 1763. As has already been stated in this work, the boundaries between the British and French possessions had been in dispute for more than a quarter of a century, but no serious conflict occurred between the colonists until 1755. For a history of the nine years of war resulting in the conquest of Canada and the occupation of all the French ports and trading posts in America, the reader is referred to Parkman's "History of the Pioneers in the New World," and his "History of the Conspiracy of Pontiac." After the occupation of the French forts by the English there was a cessation of Indian hostilities in the Ohio country until near the beginning of the American Revolution.
Following the treaty of Paris, the English government issued a proclamation, setting apart the valley of the Ohio and the adjacent region as an Indian domain, and strictly prohibiting the intrusion of settlers. This proclamation, like many others, was disregarded by the pioneers on the borders of Virginia and Pennsylvania. Attempts of the pioneers to establish themselves beyond the boundary were frequently followed by sanguinary results.
"That the French should be forced to leave the country greatly surprised and enraged the Indians, for they had such boundless faith in the power of their French father, as they called the French monarch, that they could not understand how it was possible that he would thus allow his subjects to be conquered. They saw with sorrow and bitterness the departure of their French allies, and received the English with distrust, and indeed with defiance.
"The English, now that the French were conquered, no longer felt the need of natives as allies, and did not treat them as well as they had formerly done. They showed them no courtesies, and bestowed upon them but few gifts or favors."
Such were the relations of the English and Indians at the beginning of the Revolution.
Every member of the liberal party in the English Parliament realized that the Indian was a dangerous element in the Colonial struggle.
"Immediately after Lord Dunmore's War, the Liberal Party in Parliament and the Colonial authorities made strenuous endeavors to induce all the Indian tribes in the west to remain neutral during the conflict of the Revolution."
In accordance with these views, "early in June, 1776, General Schuyler, being duly authorized by the Colonial government, met the chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations in a grand council at German Flats. After very many imposing ceremonies and eloquent speeches, the pipe of peace was smoked, a treaty was formed, and the Indians stipulated to observe a strict neutrality in the impending conflict. About a year after this, in 1777, the British Government sent commissioners to each of these tribes requesting their chiefs and warriors to meet in a grand council at Oswego, on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. We give an account of the proceedings of this council as described by the distinguished British traveler, Mr. Buckingham, in his "Travels in America." He quotes them from a narrative, which he pronounces to be of unquestionable truthfulness.
"The council convened, and the British commissioners informed the chiefs, that the object in calling a council of the Six Nations, was to engage their assistance in subduing the rebels who had risen up against the good king, their master, and were about to rob him of a great part of his possessions. The commissioners added, that they would reward the Indians for all their services. The chiefs then informed the commissioners of the nature and extent of the treaty, into which they had entered with the people of the States the year before; informing them also that they should not violate it now by taking up the hatchet against them.
"The commissioners continued their entreaties without success, until they addressed their avarice and their appetities. They told the Indians that the people of the States were few in number, and easily subdued; and that, on account of their disobedience to the king, they justly merited all the punishment which white men and Indians could inflict upon them. They added that the king was rich and powerful, both in subjects and money; that his rum was as plenty as the water in Lake Ontario; that his men were as numerous as the sands on the lake shore; that if the Indians would assist in the war until the close, as the friends of the king, they should never want for money or goods."
"These savage chieftains and warriors disregarded their stipulated neutrality, and entered into a treaty with the British commissioners, for abundant rewards, many of which were already before their eyes, and others still more alluring were promised for the future. They agreed to assail the colonists with tomahawk and scalping knife till the war should end.
"The commissioners were delighted with their success. They immediately presented to each Indian warrior a suit of clothes, a brass kettle, a gun, a tomahawk, a scalping knife, and one piece of gold. They, also, promised a bounty for every scalp which should be brought in.
"These demoniac warriors immediately entered upon a career of devastation and blood, against men, women, boys, girls, and even infants, whose horror no imagination can conceive. Inspired by British gold and British rum, they swept with flame and blood the lovely valleys of the Wyoming, the Cherry, the Mohawk and the Susquehanna.
"While his majesty's government was perpetrating such crimes in the north, Sir John Stewart was sent to rouse the Cherokees to a similar war against the frontiers of Virginia and the two Carolinas. These are dark pages in the history of civilization, and we hesitate in recording them. But history would be false to herself in spreading any veil over such crimes." It is true these atrocious measures of Lord North and Germain were opposed by Burke, Chatham and others, but the policy of the ministry prevailed.
"While the savage Indian barbarities were in progress the Colonists sent Benjamin Franklin to Paris, to secure, if possible, the aid of France in favor of his countrymen. Dr. Franklin wrote an article for the American Remembrancer, which exerted a powerful influence, in both Europe and America. It purported to be a letter from a British officer to the Governor of Canada, accompanying a present of eight packages of scalps of the Colonists.
"As a very important part of the history of the times, the letter should be recorded. It was as follows:
"May it Please Your Excellency:
At the request of the Seneca Chief, I hereby send your Excellency, under the care of James Hoyd, eight packages of scalps, cured, dried, hooped and painted with all the triumphal marks of which the following is the invoice and explanation:
"No. i. Containing forty-three scalps of Congress soldiers, killed in different skirmishes. These are stretched on black hoops, four inches in diameter. The inside of the skin is painted red, with a small black spot to denote their being killed with bullets; the hoops painted red, the skin painted brown, and marked with a hoe; a black circle all around, to denote their being surprised in the night; and a black hatchet in the middle, signifying their being killed with that weapon.
"No. 2. Containing ninety-eight farmers killed in their houses; hoops red, figure of a hoe, to mark their profession; great white circle and sun, to show they were surprised in the day time; a little red foot to show that they stood upon their defense and died fighting for their lives and families.
"No. 3. Containing ninety-seven of farmers; hoops green to show they were killed in the fields; a large white circle, with a little round mark on it, for a sun, to show it was in the day time; black bulletmark on some, a hatchet mark on others.
"No. 4. Containing one hundred and two of farmers, mixture of several of the marks above; only eighteen marked with a little yellow flame, to denote their being prisoners burnt alive, after being scalped; their nails pulled out by the roots, and other torments. One of these latter being supposed to be an American clergyman, his hand being fixed to the hook of his scalp. Most of the farmers appear, by their hair, to have been young or middle-aged men, there being but sixty-seven very gray heads among them all, which makes the service more essential.
"No. 5. Containing eighty-eight scalps of women; hair long, braided in Indian fashion, to show they were mothers; hoops blue, skin yellow ground, with little red tadpoles, to represent, by way of triumph the tears of grief occasioned to their relatives a black scalping knife or hatchet at the bottom to mark their being killed by those instruments. Seventeen others, hair very gray, black hoops, plain brown colors, no marks but the short club or cassetete, to show they were knocked down dead, or had their brains beat out.
"No. 6. Containing one hundred and ninty-three boys' scalps of various ages. Small green hoops whitish ground on the skin, with red tears in the middle, and black marks, knife, hatchet, or club as their death happened.
"No. 7. Containing two hundred and eleven girls' scalps, big and little; small yellow hoops, white ground tears, hatchet, scalping knife.
"No. 8. This package is a mixture of all the varieties above mentioned, to the number of one hundred and twenty-two, with a box of birch bark, containing twenty-nine little infants' scalps, of various sizes; small white hoops with white ground. With these packs, the chiefs send to your Excellency the following speech delivered by Conicogatchie, in council, interpreted by the elder Moore, the trader, and taken down by me in writing.
"Father — We send you herewith many scalps, that you may see we are not idle friends. We wish you to send these scalps to the great king, that he may regard them and be refreshed; and that he may see our faithfulness in destroying his enemies, and be convinced that his presents have not been made to an ungrateful people," etc.
"This document was a true representation of the nature of the conflict which the government of Great Britain was waging against its revolted colonies. There was not the slightest exaggeration in this. All alike were compelled to admit its truthfulness. The impressions which it produced throughout the courts of Europe was very profound."
It would be foreign to the plan of the present work, to attempt to give even a brief synopsis of the events of the great struggle through which the colonies passed. It will be sufficient to record that the surrender of Lord Cornwallis was followed by the establishment of American Independence. The great conflict, extending through a period of eight years, was over. The country emerged from the protracted struggle rich in hope, but destitute of a government capable of dealing with the depleted financial condition of the country.
The Articles of Confederation adopted during the Revolution were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the times. Five years were spent in the preparation and adoption of a new Constitution. "Thus for the first time the English-speaking race of the New World, with the exception of the remote Canadians, was united under a common government strong enough for safety and liberal enough for freedom."
From "History of Western Ohio and Auglaize County with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Pioneers and Prominent Public Men" by C. W. Williamson, W.M. Linn, Pub, Columbus, 1905.