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The History of the United States from 1492 to 1910, Volume 1 by Julian Hawthorne

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the people and by its own members. Sir William Phips, at Increase Mather's
suggestion, was made governor, and William Stoughton lieutenant-governor.
The members of the council were "every man of them a friend to the
interests of the churches," and of Cotton Mather. He did not conceal his
delight. "The time for favor is come, yea, the set time is come! Instead
of my being made a sacrifice to wicked rulers, my father-in-law, with
several related to me, and several brethren of my own church, are among
the council. The governor is not my enemy, but one whom I baptized, and
one of my own flock, and one of my dearest friends.--I obtained of the
Lord that He would use me to be a herald of His kingdom now approaching."
Such was the attitude of Cotton Mather regarding the political outlook.
Obviously the field was prepared for him to achieve his crowning
distinction as champion of God against the devil in Massachusetts. In
February of the next year he found his first opportunity.

There was in Salem a certain Reverend Samuel Parris who had a daughter, a
niece, and a negro-Indian servant called Tituba. The children were about
twelve years of age, and much in Tituba's society. Parris was an
Englishman born, and was at this time forty-one years old; he had left
Harvard College without a degree, had been in trade in Boston, and had
entered the ministry and obtained the pastorship of the Congregational
church at Danvers, then a part of Salem, three or four years before. He
had not lived at peace with his people; he had quarreled bitterly with
some of them, and the scandal had been noised abroad. He was a man of
brutal temper, and without moral integrity. These were the dramatis
personae employed by Cotton Mather in the first scene of his hideous farce.

The children, at the critical age between childhood and puberty, were in
a condition to be readily worked upon; it is the age when the nervous
system is disorganized, the moral sense unformed, and the imagination
ignorant and unbridled. Many children are liars and deceivers, and
self-deceivers, then, who afterward develop into sanity and goodness. But
these unhappy little creatures were under the fascination of the
illiterate and abnormal mongrel, and she secretly ravished and fascinated
them with her inexplicable powers and obscure devices. Their antics
aroused suspicions in the coarse and perhaps superstitious mind of Parris;
he catechised them; the woman's husband told what he knew; and Parris beat
her till she consented to say she was a witch. Such phenomena could only
be due to witchcraft. The cunning and seeming malignity of the children
would tax belief, were it not so familiar a fact in children; and notable
also was their histrionic ability. They were excited by the sensation they
aroused, and vain of it; they were willing to do what they could to
prolong it. But they hardly needed to invent anything; more than was
necessary was suggested to them by questions and comments. They were quick
to take hints, and improve upon them. Sarah Good, Martha Cory, Rebecca
Nourse, and all the rest, must be their victims; but God will forgive the
children, for they know not what they do. Presently, the contagion spread;
though, upon strict examination of the evidence, not nearly so far as was
supposed. Hundreds were bewildered and terrified, as well they might be;
the magistrates--Stoughton, Sewall, John Hathorne, poor Octogenarian
Bradstreet, Sir William Phips--these and others to whom it fell to
investigate and pronounce sentence--let us hope that some, if not all of
them, truly believed that their sentences were just. "God will give you
blood to drink!" was what Sarah Good said to Noyes, as she stood on the
scaffold. But why may they not have believed they were in the right? There
was Cotton Mather, the holy man, the champion against the Evil One, the
saint who walked with God, and daily lifted up his voice in prayer and
defiance and thanksgiving--he was ever at hand, to cross-question, to
insinuate, to surmise, to bluster, to interpret, to terrify, to perplex,
to vociferate: surely, this paragon of learning and virtue must know more
about the devil than any mere layman could pretend to know; and they must
accept his assurance and guidance. "I stake my reputation," he shouted,
"upon the truth of these accusations." And he pointedly prayed that the
trial might "have a good issue." When Deliverance Hobbs was under
examination, she did but cast a glance toward the meeting house, "and,"
cries the Reverend gentleman, in an ecstasy of indignation, "immediately a
demon, invisibly entering the house, tore down a part of it!" No wonder a
man so gifted as he, was conscious of a certain gratification amid all the
horrors of the diabolic visitation, for how could he regard it otherwise
than as--in his own words--"a particular defiance unto myself!" Such was
the pose which he adopted before his countrymen: that of a semi-divine, or
quite Divine man, standing between his fellow creatures and the assaults
of hell. And then Cotton Mather would go home to his secret chamber, and
write in his diary that God and religion were perhaps, after all, but an
old wives' tale.

Parris, as soon as he comprehended Mather's drift, ably seconded him. He
had his own grudges against his neighbors to work off, and nothing could
be easier. All that was needed was for one of the children, or any one
else, to affirm that they were afflicted, and perhaps to foam at the
mouth, or be contorted as in a fit, and to accuse whatever person they
chose as being the cause of their trouble. Accusation was equivalent to
condemnation; for to deny it, was to be subjected to torture until
confession was extorted; if the accused did not confess, he or she was,
according to Cotton Mather, supported by the evil one, and being a witch,
must die. If they did confess, they were spared or executed according to
circumstances. If any one expressed any doubt as to the justice of the
sentence, or as to the existence of witchcraft, it was proof that that
person was a witch. The only security was to join the ranks of the
afflicted. In the course of a few months a reign of terror was
established, and hundreds of people, some of them citizens of distinction,
were in jail or under suspicion. Twenty were hanged on Witches' Hill, west
of the town of Salem, while Cotton Mather sate comfortably by on his
horse, and assured the people that all was well, and that the devil could
sometimes assume the appearance of an angel of light--as, indeed, he might
have good cause to believe. But the mass of the people were averse from
bloodshed, and none too sure that these executions were other than
murders; and when the wife of Governor Phips was accused, the frenzy had
passed its height. It was perceived that the community, or a part of it,
had been stampeded by a panic or infatuation. They had done and
countenanced things which now seemed impossible even to themselves. How
could they have condemned the Reverend George Burroughs on the ground that
he had exhibited remarkable physical strength, and that the witnesses
against him had pretended dumbness? "Why is the devil so loth to have
testimony borne against you?" Judge Stoughton had asked; and Cotton Mather
had said "Enough!" But was it enough, indeed? If a witness simply by
holding his peace can hang a minister of blameless life, who may escape
hanging by a witness who will talk? It was remembered that Parris had been
Burroughs's rival, and instrumental in his conviction; and now that the
frenzy was past it was easy to point out the relation between the two
facts. There, too, was the venerable Giles Cory, who had been pressed to
death, not for pleading guilty, nor yet for pleading not guilty, but for
declining to plead at all. There, once more, was John Willard, to whom the
duty of arresting accused witches had been assigned; he, as a person of
common sense and honesty, had intimated his disbelief in the reality of
witchcraft by refusing to arrest; and for this, and no other crime, had he
been hanged. Had it really come to this, then--that one must die for
having it inferred, from some act of his, that he held an opinion on the
subject of witchcraft different from that announced by Mather and the
magistrates?--It had come to precisely that, in a community who were
exiles in order to secure liberty to have what opinions they liked. Then,
it was time that the witchcraft persecutions came to an end; and they did,
as abruptly as they had begun. Mather, indeed, and a few more, frightened
lest the people, in their recovered sanity, should turn upon them for an
accounting, strove their best to keep up the horror; but it was not to be.
No more convictions could be obtained. In February of 1693, Parris was
banished from Salem; others, except Stoughton, who remained obdurate, made
public confession of error. But Cotton Mather, the soul of the whole
iniquity, shrouded himself in a cuttle-fish cloud of turgid rhetoric, and
escaped scot-free. So great was the power of theological prestige in New
England two hundred years ago.

There is little doubt that the sincere believers in the witchcraft
delusion were very scanty. The vast majority of the people were simply
victims of moral and physical cowardice. They feared to exchange views
with one another frankly, lest their interlocutor turn out an informer.
They repeated, parrot-like, the conventional utterances--the shibboleths
--of the hour, and thus hid from one another the real thoughts which would
have scotched the mania at the outset. Once plant mutual suspicion and
dread among a people, and, for a time, you may drive them whither you
will. It was by that means that the Council of Ten ruled in Venice, the
Inquisition in Spain, and the Vehmgericht in Germany; and it was by that
means that Cotton Mather enslaved Salem. The episode is a stain on the
fair page of our history; but Cotton Mather was the origin and agent of
it; Parris may have voluntarily assisted him, and some or all of the
magistrates and others concerned may have been his dupes; but beyond this
handful, the support was never more than perfunctory. The instant the
weight of dread was lightened everybody discovered that everybody else had
believed all along that the whole thing was either a delusion or a fraud.
Until then, they had none of them had the courage to say so--that was all.
And let us not be scornful: the kind of courage that _would_ say so
is the very rarest and highest courage in the world.

But though Cotton Mather is almost or entirely chargeable with the guilt
of the twenty murders on Witches' Hill, not to mention the incalculable
agony of soul and domestic misery incidentally occasioned, yet it must not
be forgotten that he was of Puritan stock and training, and that false and
detestable though his individual nature doubtless was, his crimes, but for
Puritanism, could not have taken the form they did. Puritanism was prone
to brood over predestination, over the flames of hell, and him who kept
them burning; it was severe in repressing natural expressions of gayety;
it was intolerant of unlicensed opinions, and it crushed spontaneity and
innocent frivolity. It aimed, in a word, to deform human nature, and make
of it somewhat rigid and artificial. These were some of the faults of
Puritanism, and it was these which made possible such a monstrosity as
Cotton Mather. He was, in a measure, a creature of his time and place, and
in this degree we must consider Puritanism as amenable, with him, at the
bar of history. It is for this reason solely that the witchcraft episode
assumes historical importance, instead of being a side-scene of ghastly
picturesqueness. For the Puritans took it to heart; they never forgot it;
it modified their character, and gave a favorable turn to their future.
Gradually the evil of their system was purged out of it, while the good
remained; they became less harsh, but not less strong; they were
high-minded, still, but they abjured narrowness. They would not go so far
as to deny that the devil might afflict mankind, but they declared
themselves unqualified to prove it. There began in them, in short, the
dawn of human sympathies, and the growth of spiritual humility. Cotton
Mather, with all that he represented, sinks into the mire; but the true
Puritan arises, and goes forward with lightened heart to the mighty
destiny that awaits him.

As for bluff Sir William Phips, he is better remembered for his youthful
exploits of hoisting treasure from the fifty-year-old wreck of a Spanish
galleon, in the reign of King James, and of building with some of the
proceeds his "fair brick house, in the Green Lane of Boston," than for his
administration of government during his term of office. He was an
uneducated, rough-handed, rough-natured man, a ship-carpenter by trade,
and a mariner of experience; statesmanship and diplomacy were not his
proper business. A wise head as well as a strong hand was needed at the
helm of Massachusetts just at that juncture. But he did not prevent the
legislature from passing some good laws, and from renewing the life of New
England towns, which had been suppressed by Andros. The new charter had
greatly enlarged the Massachusetts domain, which now extended over the
northern and eastern regions that included Maine; but, as we shall
presently see, the obligation to defend this territory against the French
and Indians cost the colony much more than could be recompensed by any
benefit they got from it. Phips captured Port Royal, but failed to take
Quebec. The legislature, advised by the public-spirited Elisha Cooke, kept
the royal officials in hand by refusing to vote them permanent salaries or
regular revenues. Bellomont succeeded Phips, and Dudley, in 1702, followed
Bellomont, upon the solicitation of Cotton Mather; who long ere this, in
his "Book of Memorable Providences," had shifted all blame for the late
tragic occurrences from his own shoulders to those of the Almighty. Dudley
retained the governorship till 1715. The weight of what authority he had
was on the side of restricting charter privileges; but he could produce no
measurable effect in retarding the mighty growth of liberty. We shall not
meet him again.

New Hampshire fully maintained her reputation for intractability; and the
general drift of colonial affairs toward freedom was so marked as to
become a common subject of remark in Europe. Some of the best heads there
began to suggest that such a consummation might not be inexpedient. But
before England and her Colonies were to try their strength against one
another, there were to occur the four colonial wars, by which the
colonists were unwittingly trained to meet their most formidable and their
final adversary.



When thieves fall out, honest men come by their own. The first clause of
this sentence may serve to describe the Colonial Wars in America; the
second, to point the moral of the American Revolution.

Columbus, and the other great mariners of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth
Centuries, might claim for their motives an admixture, at least, of
thoughts higher than mere material gain: the desire to enlarge knowledge,
to win glory, to solve problems. But the patrons and proprietors of the
adventurers had an eye single to profit. To make money was their aim. In
overland trading there was small profit and scanty business; but the
opening of the sea as a path to foreign countries, and a revelation of
their existence--and of the fortuitous fact that they were inhabited by
savages who could not defend themselves--completely transformed the

Ships could bring in months more, a hundred-fold more, merchandise than
caravans could transport in years; and the expenses of carriage were
minimized. Goods thus placed in the market could be sold at a vast profit.
This was the first obvious fact. Secondly, this profit could be made to
inure exclusively to that country whose ships made the discovery, by the
simple device of claiming, as integral parts of the kingdom, whatever new
lands they discovered; the ships of all other nations could then be
forbidden to trade there. Thirdly, colonists could be sent out, who would
serve a double use:--they would develop and export the products of the new
country; and they would constitute an ever-increasing market for the
exports of the home country.

Such was the ideal. To realize it, three things were necessary: first,
that the natives--the "heathen"--should be dominated, and either converted
or exterminated; next, that the fiat of exclusion against other nations
should be made good; and finally (most vital of all, though the last to be
considered), that the colonists themselves should forfeit all but a
fraction of their personal interests in favor of the monopolists at home.

Now, as to the heathen, some of them, like the Caribbeans, could be--and
by Spanish methods, they were--exterminated. Others, such as the Mexican
and Central and South American tribes, could be in part killed off, in
part "converted" as it was called. Others again, like the Indians of North
America, could neither be converted nor exterminated; but they could be in
a measure conciliated, and they could always be fought. The general result
was that the natives co-operated to a certain extent in providing articles
for export (chiefly furs), and on the other hand, delayed colonization by
occasionally massacring the first small groups of colonists. In the long
run however most of them disappeared, so far as power either for use or
for offense was concerned.

The attempt of the several colonizing powers to make their rivals keep
out of their preserves was not successful. Piracy, smuggling,
privateering, and open war were the answers of the nations to one
another's inhibitions, though, all the while, none of them questioned the
correctness of the excluding principle. Each of them practiced it
themselves, though trying to defeat its practice by others. Portugal, the
first of the foreign-trading and monopolizing nations, was early forced
out of the business by more powerful rivals; Holland was the first to call
the principle itself in question, and to fight in the cause of free
commerce; though even she had her little private treasure-box in Java.
Spain's commerce was, during the next centuries, seriously impaired by the
growing might of England. France was the next to suffer; and finally
England, after meeting with much opposition from her own colonies, was
called upon to confront a European coalition; and while she was putting
forth her strength to overcome that, her colonies revolted, and achieved
their independence. Such was the history and fate of the colonial system;
though Spain still retained much of her American possessions (owing to
peculiar conditions) for years afterward.

But England might have retained her settlements too, so far as Europe was
concerned; the real cause of her discomfiture lay in the fact that her
colonists were mainly people of her own blood, all of them with an
inextinguishable love of liberty, which was fostered and confirmed by
their marriage with the wilderness; and many of whom were also actuated by
considerations of religion and conscience, the value of which they placed
above everything else. They wished to be "loyal," but they would not
surrender what they termed innate rights; they would not be taxed without
representation, nor be debarred from manufacturing; nor consent to make
England their sole depot and source of supplies. They would not surrender
their privilege to be governed by representatives elected by themselves.
England, as we have seen, contended against this spirit by all manner of
more or less successful enactments and acts of despotism; until at last,
near the opening of the Eighteenth Century, it became evident to a few
far-seeing persons on both sides that the matter could only be settled by
open force. But this method of arbitrament was postponed for half a
century by the Colonial Wars, which made of the colonists a united people,
and educated them, from farmers and traders, into a military nation. Then
the war came, and the United States was its consequence.

The Colonial Wars were between England on one side, and Spain and France
on the other. Spain was not a serious foe, or obstacle; England had no
special hankering after Florida and Mexico, and she knew nothing about the
great Californian region. But France harried her on the north, and pushed
her back on the west, the first collisions in this direction occurring at
the Alleghanies and along the Ohio River. France had discovered, claimed,
and in a certain sense occupied, a huge wedge of the present United
States: an area which (apart from Canada) extended from Maine to Oregon,
and down in converging lines to the Gulf of Mexico. They called it
Louisiana. The story of the men who explored it is a story of heroism,
devotion, energy and sublime courage perhaps unequaled in the history of
the world. But France failed to follow up these men with substantial
colonies. Colonies could not help the fur trade at the north, and the
climate there was anything but attractive; and mishaps of various kinds
prevented the colonizing of the great Mississippi valley. There was a
little French settlement near the mouths of that river, the descendants of
which still give character to New Orleans; but the rest of the enormous
triangle was occupied chiefly by missionaries and trappers, and, during
the wars, with the operating military forces. France would have made a far
less effective resistance than she did, had she not observed, from the
first, the policy of allying herself with the Indian tribes, and even
incorporating them with herself. All converted Indians were French
citizens by law; the French soldiers and settlers intermarried to a large
extent with the red men, and the half-breed became almost a race of
itself. The savages took much more kindly to the picturesque and emotional
Church of Rome than to the gloomy severities of the Puritan Calvinists;
the "praying Indians" were numerous; and the Cross became a real link
between the red men and the white. This fact was of immense value in the
wars with the English; and had it not been for the neutrality or active
friendliness of a group of tribes whom the Jesuit missionaries had failed
to win, the English colonies might have been quite obliterated. The policy
of employing savages in warfare between civilized states was denounced
then and afterward; it led to the perpetration of sickening barbarities;
but it was France's only chance, and, speaking practically, it was hardly
avoidable. Besides, the English did not hesitate to enlist Indians on
their side, when they could. Had the savages fought after the manner of
the white men, it would have been well enough; but on the contrary, they
imposed their methods upon the whites; and most of the conflicts had more
of the character of massacres than of battles. Women and children were
mercilessly slain, or carried into captivity. But it must be remembered
that the American continent, at that time, did not admit of such tactics
as were employed in Europe--as Braddock found to his cost; operations must
be chiefly by ambuscade and surprise; when the town or the fort was
captured, it was not easy to restrain the wild men; and if they plied the
tomahawk without regard to sex or age, the white soldiers, little less
savage, readily learned to follow their example. After all, the wars were
necessarily for extermination, and there is no better way to exterminate a
people--as Spain has uniformly shown from the beginning to the end of her
history--than by murdering their women and children. They are "innocent,"
no doubt, so far as active hostilities are concerned; but they breed, or
become, men and thereby threaten the future. Moreover, not a few of the
women did deeds of warlike valor themselves. It was a savage time, and war
has its hideous side always, and in this period seemed to have hardly any

The pioneering on this continent of the Spanish and the French, though in
itself a captivating story, cannot properly be dwelt on in a history of
the growth of the American principle. Ponce de Leon traversed Florida in
the first quarter of the Sixteenth Century, hunting for the Fountain of
Immortality, and finding death. Hernando de Soto wandered over the area of
several of our present Southern States, and discovered the lower reaches
of the Mississippi; he was a man of blood, and his blood was shed. Some
score of years later Spaniards massacred the Huguenot colony at St.
Augustine, and built that oldest of American cities. Beyond this, on the
Atlantic slope, they never proceeded, having enough to do further south.
But they lay claim, even in these closing years of the Nineteenth Century,
to the entire American continent--"if they had their rights."

The French began their American career with an Italian employé,
Verrazano, who spied out the coast from Florida to Newfoundland in 1524.
Then Cartier peered into the wide mouth of the St. Lawrence, and tried to
get to India by that route, but got no further than the present Montreal.
In the next century, Champlain, one of the great explorers and the first
governor of Canada, laid the corner-stone of Quebec; it became at once the
center of Canadian trade which it has ever since remained. This was in
1608. In respect of enterprise as explorers, the French easily surpassed
the farm-loving, home-building, multiplying colonists of England. But
England took advantage of French discoveries, and stayed, and prevailed.
God makes men help each other in their own despite.

Richelieu said in 1627 that the name, New France, designated the whole
continent of America from the North Pole down to Florida. The Jesuits, who
arose as a counteracting force to Luther and the Reformation, supplanted
the Franciscans as missionaries among the heathen, and performed what can
only be called prodigies of self-sacrifice and intrepidity. Loyola was a
worthy antagonist of Calvin, and the first achievements of his followers
were the more striking. But the magnificent exploits of these men were not
the preliminary of commensurate colonization. The spirit of Calvin
inspired large bodies of men and women to establish themselves in the
wilderness in order to cultivate his doctrines without interference; the
spirit of Loyola embodied no new religious principle; it simply kindled
individuals to fresh exertions to promulgate the unchanging dogmas of the
Roman Church. The Jesuits were leaders without followers; their mission
was to bring the Church to the heathen, and the heathen into the Church;
and the impressiveness of their activity was due to the daring and faith
which pitted units against thousands, and refused to accept defeat. They
were the knight-errantry of religion. The fame of their deeds inspired
enthusiasm in France, so that noble women gave up their luxurious lives,
for the sake of planting faith in the inhospitable immensities of the
Canadian forests; but the mass of the common people were not stimulated or
attracted; the profits of the fur-trade employed but a handful; and the
blood of the Jesuit martyrs--none more genuine ever died--was poured out
almost without practical results. Our estimate of human nature is exalted;
but there are no happy communities to-day which owe their existence to the
Jesuit pioneers. The priests themselves were wifeless and childless, and
the family hearthstone could not be planted on the sites of their
immolations and triumphs. Nor were the disciples of Loyola aided, as were
the Calvinists, by persecution at home. All alike were good Catholics. But
had the Jesuits advocated but a single principle of human freedom, France
might have been mistress of America to-day.

So, under the One Hundred Assistants, as the French colonizing Company of
the early Seventeenth Century was called, missions were dotted throughout
the loneliness and terror of the wilderness; Breboeuf and Daniel did their
work and met their fate; Raymbault carried the cross to Lake Superior;
Gabriel Dreuilettes came down the Kennebec; Jogues was tortured by the
Mohawks; Lallemand shed his blood serenely; Chaumont and Dablon built
their chapel where now stands Syracuse; and after all, there stood the
primeval forests, pathless as before, and the red men were but partially
and transiently affected. The Hundred Assistants were dissolved, and a new
colonial organization was operating in 1664; soldiers were sent over, and
the Jesuits, still unweariedly in the van, pushed westward to Michigan,
and Marquette and Joliet, two young men of thirty-six and twenty-seven,
discovered the Mississippi, and descended it as far as Des Moines; but
still, all the inhabitants of New France could easily have mustered in a
ten-acre field. Then, in 1666 came Robert Cavelier La Salle, a cadet of a
good family, educated in a Jesuit seminary, but destined to incur the
enmity of the order, and at last to perish, not indeed at their hands, but
in consequence of conditions largely due to them. The towering genius of
this young man--he was but just past his majority when he came to
Montreal, and he was murdered by his treacherous traveling companion,
Duhaut, on a branch of Trinity River in Texas, before he had reached the
age of five and forty--his indomitable courage, his tact and firmness in
dealing with all kinds of men, from the Grand Monarch to the humblest
savage, his great thoughts and his wonderful exploits, his brilliant
fortune and his appalling calamities, both of which he met with an equal
mind:--these qualities and the events which displayed them make La Salle
the peer, at least, of any of his countrymen of that age. What must be the
temper of a man who, after encountering and overcoming incredible
opposition, after being the victim of unrelenting misfortune, including
loss of means, friends, and credit, of deadly fevers, of shipwreck,--could
rise to his feet amid the destruction of all that he had labored for
twenty years to build up, and confidently and cheerfully undertake the
enterprise of traveling on foot from Galveston in Texas to Montreal in
Canada, to ask for help to re-establish his colony? It is a formidable
journey to-day, with all the appliances of steam and the luxury of food
and accommodation that science and ingenuity can frame; it would be a
portentous trip for the most accomplished modern pedestrian, assisted
though he would be by roads, friendly wayside inns and farms, maps of the
route, and hobnailed walking boots. La Salle undertook it with thousands
of miles of uncharted wilderness before him, through tribes assumed to be
hostile till they proved themselves otherwise, with doubtful and
quarreling companions, and shod with moccasins of green hide. Even of the
Frenchmen whom he might meet after reaching Illinois, the majority, being
under Jesuit influence, would be hostile. But he had faced and conquered
difficulties as great as these, and he had no fear. At the time the
scoundrel Duhaut shot him from ambush, he was making hopeful progress. But
it was decreed that France was not to stay in America. La Salle discovered
the Ohio and the Illinois, built Fort Crevecoeur, and started a colony on
the coast of Texas; he received a patent of nobility, and lost his fortune
and his life. The pathos of such a death lies in the consideration that
his plans died with him. It was the year before the accession of William
of Orange; and the first war with France began two years later.

France, after all drawbacks, was far from being a foe to be slighted. The
English colonists outnumbered hers, but hers were all soldiers; they had
trained the Indians to the use of firearms, had taught them how to build
forts, and by treating them as equals, had won the confidence and
friendship of many of them. The English colonies, on the other hand, had
as yet no idea of co-operation; each had its own ideas and ways of
existence; they had never met and formed acquaintance with one another
through a common congress of representatives. They were planters, farmers
and merchants, with no further knowledge of war than was to be gained by
repelling the attacks of savages, and retaliating in kind. They had the
friendship of the Five Nations, and they received help from English
regiments. But the latter had no experience of forest fighting, and made
several times the fatal mistake of undervaluing their enemy, as well as
clinging to impracticable formations and tactics. The English officers did
not conceal their contempt for the "provincial" troops, who were not,
indeed, comely to look at from the conventional military standpoint, but
who bore the brunt of the fighting, won most of the successes, and were
entirely capable of resenting the slights to which they were unjustly
subjected. What was quite as important, bearing in mind what was to happen
in 1775, they learned to gauge the British fighting capacity, and did not
fear, when the time came, to match themselves against it.

King William's War lasted from 1689 to 1697. Louis XIV. had refused to
recognize William as a legitimate king of England, and undertook to
champion the cause of the dethroned James. The conduct of the war in
Europe does not belong to our inquiry. The proper course for the French to
have adopted in America would have been to encourage the English colonies
to revolt against the king; but the statesmanship of that age had not
conceived the idea of colonial independence. Besides, the colonies would
not at that epoch have fallen in with the scheme; they might have been
influenced to rise against a Stuart, but not against a William. There was
no general plan of campaign on either side. There was no question as yet
about the western borders. There was but one point of contact of New
France and the English colonies--the northern boundaries of New England
and New York. The position of the English, strung along a thousand miles
of the Atlantic coast, did not favor concentration against the enemy, and
still less was it possible for the latter, with their small force, to
march south and overrun the country. What could be done then? Obviously,
nothing but to make incursions across the line, after the style of the
English and Scottish border warfare. Nothing could be gained, except the
making of each other miserable. But that was enough, since two kings,
neither of whom any of the combatants had seen, were angry with each other
three thousand miles away. Louis does not admit the right of William,
doesn't he?--says the Massachusetts farmer to the Canadian coureur des
bois; and without more ado they fly at each others' throats.

The successes, such as they were, were chiefly on the side of the French.
Small parties of Indians, or of French and Indians combined, would steal
down upon the New York and New England farms and villages, suddenly leap
out upon the man and his sons working in their clearings, upon the woman
and her children in the hut: a whoop, a popping of musket shots and
whistling of arrows, then the vicious swish and crash of the murderous
tomahawk, followed by the dexterous twist of the scalping-knife, and the
snatching of the tuft of hair from the bleeding skull. That is all--but,
no: there still remains a baby or two who must be caught up by the leg,
and have its brains dashed out on the door-jamb; and if any able-bodied
persons survive, they are to be loaded with their own household goods, and
driven hundreds of miles over snows, or through heats, to Canada, as
slaves. Should they drop by the way, as Mrs. Williams did, down comes the
tomahawk again. Or perhaps a Mrs. Dustin learns how to use the weapon so
as to kill at a blow, and that night puts her knowledge to the proof on
the skulls of ten sleeping savages, and so escapes. Occasionally there is
a more important massacre, like that at Schenectady, or Deerfield. But
these Indian surprises are not only revolting, but monotonous to
weariness, and, as they accomplished nothing but a given number of
murders, there is nothing to be learned from them. They are meaningless;
and we can hardly imagine even the Grand Monarch, or William of Orange,
being elated or depressed by their details.

There were no French farms or small villages to be attacked in requital,
so it was necessary for the English to proceed against Port Royal or
Quebec. The aged but bloodthirsty Frontenac was governor of Canada at this
time, and proved himself able (aided by the imbecility of the attack) to
defend it. In March of 1690 a sort of congress had met at Albany, which
sent word to the several colonial governors to dispatch commissioners to
Rhode Island for a general conference for adopting measures of defense and

The delegates met in May or the last of April, at New York, and decided
to conquer Canada by a two-headed campaign; one army to go by way of Lake
Champlain to Montreal, while a fleet should proceed against Quebec. Sir
William Phips of Massachusetts was off to Port Royal within four weeks,
and took it without an effort, there being hardly any one to defend it.
But Leisler of New York and Winthrop of Connecticut quarreled at Lake
Champlain, and that part of the plan came to a disgraceful end forthwith.
A month or so later, Phips was blundering pilotless into the St. Lawrence,
with two thousand Massachusetts men on thirty-four vessels. Their coming
had been prepared for, and when they demanded the surrender of the
impregnable fortress, with a garrison more numerous than themselves, they
were answered with jeers; and it is painful to add that they turned round
and set out for home again without striking a blow. A storm completed
their discomfiture; and when Phips at last brought what was left of his
fleet into harbor, he found the treasury empty, and was forced to issue
paper money to pay his bills.

No further talk of "On to Quebec" was heard for some time. Port Royal was
retaken by a French vessel. Parties of Indians, encouraged by the Jesuits,
again stole over the border and did the familiar work. Schuyler, on the
English side, succeeded in making a successful foray in 1691; and a fort
was built at Pemaquid--to be taken, five years afterward, by Iberville and
Castin. In 1693 an English fleet, which had been beaten at Martinique,
came to Boston with orders to conquer Canada; but as it was manned by
warriors half of whom were dying of malignant yellow fever, Canada was
spared once more. The only really formidable enemies that Frontenac could
discover were the Five Nations, whom he tried in vain to frighten or to
conciliate. He himself, at the age of seventy-four, headed the last
expedition against them, in the summer of 1696. It returned without having
accomplished anything except the burning of villages and the laying waste
of lands. The following year peace was signed at Ryswick, a village in
South Holland. France had done well in the field and by negotiations; but
England had sustained no serious reverses, and having borrowed money from
a group of private capitalists, whom it chartered as the Bank of England
in 1694, was financially stronger than ever. Louis accepted the results of
the English Revolution, but kept his American holdings; and the boundaries
between these and the English colonies were not settled. The Five Nations
were not pacified till 1700. The French continued their occupation of the
Mississippi basin, and in 1699 Lemoine Iberville sailed for the
Mississippi, and built a fort on the bay of Biloxi. Communication was now
established between the Gulf of Mexico and Quebec. The English, through
the agency of a New Jerseyman named Coxe, and a forged journal of
exploration by Hennepin, tried to get a foothold on the great river, but
the attempt was fruitless. Fruitless, likewise, were French efforts to
find gold, or, indeed, to establish a substantial colony themselves in the
feverish Louisiana region. Iberville caught the yellow plague and never
fully recovered; and the desert-girded fort at Mobile seemed a small
result for so much exertion.

In truth, on both sides of the Atlantic, peace existed nowhere except on
the paper signed at Ryswick; and in 1702 William saw that he must either
fight again, or submit to a union between France and Spain, Louis XIV.
becoming, by the death without issue of the Spanish king, sovereign of
both countries, to the upsetting of the European balance of power. Spain
had become a nonentity; she had no money, no navy, no commerce, no
manufactures, and a population reduced by emigration, and by the expulsion
of Jews and Moors, to about seven millions: nothing remained to her but
that "pride" of which she was always so solicitous, based as it was upon
her achievements as a robber, a murderer, a despot and a bigot. She now
had no king, which was the least of her losses, but gave her the power of
disturbing Europe by lapsing to the French Bourbons.

William himself was close to death, and died before the opening year of
the war was over. Louis was alive, and was to remain alive for thirteen
years longer; but he was sixty-four, was becoming weary and discouraged,
and had lost his ministers and generals. On the English side was
Marlborough; and the battle of Blenheim, not to speak of the European
combination against France, showed how the game was going. But the peace
of Utrecht in 1713, though it lasted thirty years, was not based on
justice, and could not stand. Spain was deprived of her possessions in the
Netherlands, but was allowed to keep her colonies, and the loss of
Gibraltar confirmed her hatred of England. Belgium, Antwerp and Austria
were wronged, and France was insulted by the destruction of Dunkirk
harbor. England embarked with her whole heart in the African slave trade,
securing the monopoly of importing negroes into the West Indies for thirty
years, and being the exclusive dealer in the same commodity along the
Atlantic coast. Half the stock in the business was owned by the English
people, and the other half was divided equally between Queen Anne and
Philip of Spain. The profits were enormous. Meanwhile the treaty between
Spain and England allowed and legitimatized the smuggling operations of
the latter in the West Indies, a measure which was sure to involve our
colonies sooner or later in the irrepressible conflict. England, again,
got Hudson's Bay, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, but not the Mississippi
valley, from France. Boundary lines were not accurately determined; and
could not be until the wars between 1744 and 1763 finally decided these
and other matters in England's favor. The most commendable clause in the
treaty was the one inserted by Bolingbroke that defined contraband, and
the rights of blockade, and laid down the rule that free ships should give
freedom to goods carried in them.

Anne, a daughter of James II., but a partisan of William, succeeded him
in 1702 at the age of thirty-seven; she was herself governed by the
Marlboroughs and Mrs. Mashamam--an intelligent woman of humble birth, who
became keeper of her majesty's privy purse. The war which the queen
inherited, and which was called by her name, lasted till the final year of
her reign. Only New England on the north and Carolina on the south were
participants in the fray on this side, and no great glory or advantage
accrued to either. New York was sheltered by the neutrality of the Five
Nations, and Pennsylvania, Virginia and the rest were beyond the reach of
French operations.

The force raised by South Carolina to capture St. Augustine had expected
to receive cannon for the siege from Jamaica; but the cannon failed them,
and they retreated with nothing to show but a debt which they liquidated
in paper. They had better luck with an expedition to sever the Spanish
line of communication with Louisiana; the Spanish and Indians were beaten
in December, 1705, and the neighboring inhabitants along the Gulf
emigrated to South Carolina. Then the French set out to take Charleston;
but the Huguenots were mindful of St. Bartholomew and of the revocation of
the Edict of Nantes, and they set upon the invaders when they landed, and
slew three out of every eight of them. The South Carolinians were let
alone thereafter.

In the north, the French secured the neutrality of the Senecas, but the
English failed to do the like with the Abenakis, and the massacring season
set in with marked severity on the Maine border in the summer of 1703. It
was in the ensuing winter that the Deerfield affair took place; the
crusted snow was so deep that it not only gave the French and Indian war
party good walking down from Canada, but enabled them to mount up the
drifts against the palisades of the town and leap down inside. The
sentinels were not on guard that morning, though, warned by the Mohawks,
the people had been looking for the attack all winter long. What is to be
said of these tragedies? When we have realized the awful pang in a
mother's heart, wakened from sleep by that shrill, triumphant yell of the
Indian, and knowing that in a moment she will see her children's faces
covered with the blood and brains from their crushed skulls, we shall have
nothing more to learn from Indian warfare. How many mothers felt that pang
in the pale dawn of that frosty morning in Deerfield? After the war party
had done the work, and departed exulting with their captives, how many
motionless corpses, in what ghastly attitudes, lay huddled in the darksome
rooms of the little houses, or were tossed upon the trodden snow without,
the looks of mortal agony frozen on their features? But you will hear the
howl of the wolves by-and-by; and the black bear will come shuffling and
sniffing through the broken doors; and when the frightful feast is over,
there will be, in place of these poses of death, only disordered heaps of
gnawed bones, and shreds of garments rent asunder, and the grin of
half-eaten skulls. Nothing else remains of a happy and innocent community.
Why were they killed? Had they harmed their killers? Was any military
advantage gained by their death?--They had harmed no one, and nothing was
gained, or pretended to be gained, by their murder: nothing except to
establish the principle that, since two countries in Europe were at war,
those emigrants of theirs who had voyaged hither in quest of peace and
happiness should lie in wait to destroy one another. Human sympathies
have, sometimes, strange ways of avouching themselves.

People become accustomed even to massacre. But the children born in these
years, who were themselves to be the fathers and mothers of the generation
of the Revolution, must have sucked in stern and fierce qualities with the
milk from their mothers' breasts. No one, even in the midst of
Massachusetts, was safe during that first decade of the Eighteenth
Century. A single Indian, in search of glory, would spend weeks in
creeping southward from the far border; he would await his chance long and
patiently; he would leap out, and strike, and vanish again, leaving that
silent horror behind him. Such deeds, and the constant possibility of
them, left their mark upon the whole population. They grew up familiar
with violent death in its most terrible forms. The effect of Indian
warfare upon the natures of those who engage in it, or are subjected to
its perils, is different from that of what we must call civilized
fighting. The end as well as the aim of the Indian's battle is death--a
scalp. Murder for the mere pleasure of murdering has an influence upon a
community far more sinister than that of death by war waged for
recognizable causes. The Puritans of the Eighteenth Century were another
people than those of the Seventeenth. There had been reason in the early
Indian struggles, when the savages might have hoped to exterminate the
settlers and leave their wilderness a wilderness once more; but there
could be no such hope now. The desire for revenge was awakened and
fostered as it had never been before. Many other circumstances combined to
modify the character of the people of New England during this century; but
perhaps this new capacity for revenge was not the least potent of the
influences that made the seven years of the Revolution possible.

Peter Schuyler protested in vain against the "savage and boundless
butchery" into which the conflict between "Christian princes, bound to the
exactest laws of honor and generosity," was degenerating; but the only way
to stop it appeared to be to extirpate the perpetrators; and to that end a
fifth part of the population were constantly in arms. The musket became
more familiar to their hands than the plow and spade; and their
marksmanship was near perfection. They gradually developed a system of
tactics of their own, foreign to the manuals. The first thing you were
aware of in the provincial soldier was the puff of smoke from the muzzle
of his weapon; almost simultaneously came the thud of his bullet in your
breast, or crashing through your brain. He loaded his gun lying on his
back beneath the ferns and shrubbery; he advanced or retreated invisibly,
from tree to tree. Your only means of estimating his numbers was from your
own losses. It was thus that the American troops afterward gained their
reputation of being almost invincible behind an intrenchment; it gave its
character to the engagements at Concord and along the Boston Road, and
sent hundreds of redcoats to death on the slopes of Bunker Hill. It was
not magnificent--to look at; but it was war; combined with the European
tactics acquired later on, it survived reverses that would have driven
other troops from the field, and, with Washington at the head, won our
independence at last.

The least revolting feature of the Indian warfare was the habit they
acquired, through French suggestion doubtless, of taking large numbers of
persons captive, and carrying them north. If they weakened on the journey,
they were of course tomahawked out of the way at once; but if they
survived, they were either sold as slaves to the Canadians, or were kept
by the Indians, who adopted them into their tribes, having no system of
slavery. Many a woman and little girl from New England became the mother
of Indian children; and when the captives were young enough at the
beginning, they generally grew to love the wild life too well to leave it.
Indeed, they were generally treated well by both the Canadians and the
Indians after they got to their destination. On the other hand, there were
the fathers and mothers and relatives of the lost planning their
redemption or rescue, and raising money to buy them back. Many a thrilling
tale could be told of these episodes. But we must imagine beautiful young
women, who had been taken away in childhood, found after years of
heart-breaking search and asked to return to their homes. What was their
home? They had forgotten New England, and those who loved them and had
sorrowed for them there. The eyes of these young women, clear and bright,
had a wildness in their look that is never seen in the children of
civilization; their faces were tanned by sun and breeze, their figures
lithe and athletic, their dress of deerskin and wampum, their light feet
clad in moccasins; their tongues and ears were strange to the language of
their childhood homes. No: they would not return. Sometimes, curiosity, or
a vague expectation, would induce them to revisit those who yearned for
them; but, having arrived, they received the embraces of their own flesh
and blood shyly and coldly; they were stifled and hampered by the houses,
the customs, the ordered ways of white people's existence. A night must
come when they would arise silently, resume with a deep in-breathing of
delight the deerskin raiment, and be gone without one last loving look at
the faces of those who had given them life, but from whom their souls were
forever parted. There is a harrowing mystery in these estrangements: how
strong, and yet how helpless is the human heart; all the world cannot
break the bonds it ties, nor can all the world tie them again, once the
heart itself has dissolved them.

Thus, in more ways than one, the blood of the English colonists became
wedded to the soil of the wilderness, if wilderness the settlements could
now be called. And they became like the captives we have just been
imagining, who cared no longer for the land and the people that had been
their home. Not more because they were estranged by England's behavior
than because they had formed new attachments beside which the old ones
seemed pale, were they now able to contemplate with composure the idea of
a final separation. America was no longer England's daughter. She had
acquired a life of her own, and could look forward to a destiny which the
older country could never share. The ways of the two had parted more fully
than either, as yet, quite realized; and if they were ever to meet
again hereafter, it must be the older, and not the younger, who must

Apart from the Indian episodes, little was done until 1710, when a large
fleet left Boston and again captured Port Royal, to which the name of
Annapolis was given as a compliment to the snuffy little woman who sat on
the English throne. This success was made the basis of a proposition to
put an end to the development of the French settlements west of the
Alleghanies. It was represented to the English government that the entire
Indian population in the west was being amalgamated with the French; the
Jesuits ensnaring them on the spiritual side, and the intermarrying system
on the other. The English Secretary of State was Bolingbroke--or
Saint-John as he was then--a man of three and thirty, brilliant, graceful,
gifted, versatile; but without principle or constancy, who never
emancipated his superb intellect from his restless and sensuous nature.
After hearing what the American envoys had to say, and thinking the matter
over, Saint-John made up his mind that it could do no harm, as a
beginning, to capture Quebec; and that being safe in English hands, the
rest of the programme could be finished at leisure. Seven regiments of
Marlborough's veterans, the best soldiers in the world at that time, a
battalion of marines, and fifteen men-of-war, were intrusted to the
utterly incompetent and preposterous Hovenden Walker, with the not less
absurd Jack Hill, brother of Mrs. Masham, as second in command. In short,
the expedition was what would now be called a "job" for the favorites and
hangers-on of the Court; the taking of the Canadian fortress was deemed so
easy a feat that even fools and Merry-Andrews could accomplish it. The
Americans had meantime made their preparations to co-operate with this
imposing armada; an army of colonists and Iroquois were at Albany, ready
for a dash on Montreal. But week after week passed away, and the fleet,
having got to Boston, seemed unable to get away from it. No doubt
Hovenden, Hill and the rest of the rabble were enjoying themselves in the
Puritan capital. The Boston of stern-visaged, sad-garmented,
scripture-quoting men and women, of unpaved streets and mean houses, was
gone; Boston in the first quarter of the Eighteenth Century was a city--a
place of gayety, fashion and almost luxury. The scarlet coats of the
British officers made the narrow but briskly-moving streets brilliant; but
even without them, the embroidered coats, silken small clothes and clocked
stockings, powdered wigs and cocked hats of the fine gentlemen, and the
wide hoops and imposing head-dresses of the women, made a handsome show.
People of many nationalities mingled in the throng, for commerce had
brought the world in all its various forms to the home of the prayers of
Winthrop and Higginson; the royal governors maintained a fitting state,
and traveled Americans, then as now, brought back with them from Europe
the freshest ideas of modishness and style. There were folk of quality
there, personages of importance and dignity, forming an inner aristocratic
circle who conversed of London and the Court, and whose august society it
was the dear ambition of the lesser lights to ape, if they could not join
it. Democratic manners were at a discount in these little hotbeds of
amateur cockneyism; the gloomy severities of the old-fashioned religion
were put aside; there was an increasing gap between the higher and the
lower orders of the population. This appearance was no doubt superficial;
and the beau-monde is never so numerous as its conspicuousness leads one
to imagine. When the rumblings of the Revolutionary earthquake began to
make themselves heard in earnest, the gingerbread aristocracy came
tumbling down in a hurry, and the old, invincible spirit, temporarily
screened by the waving of scented handkerchiefs, the flutter of fans, and
the swish of hoop-skirts, made itself once more manifest and dominant. But
that epoch was still far off; for the present court was paid to Hovenden
and his officers; and the British coffee-house in King Street was a noble

What bottles of wine those warriors drank, what snuff they took, what
long pipes they smoked, how they swore and ruffled, and what tales they
told of Marlborough and the wars! The British army swore frightfully in
Flanders, and in King Street, too. There, also, they read the news in the
newspapers of the day, and discussed matters of high policy and strategy,
while the civilians listened with respectful admiration. And see how that
dapper young officer seated in the window arches his handsome eyebrows and
smirks as two pretty Boston girls go by! Yes, it is no wonder that the
British fleet needed a long time to refit in Boston harbor, before going
up to annihilate those French jumping-jacks on the banks of the St.
Lawrence. "La, Captain, I hope you won't get hurt!" says pretty Miss
Betty, with her white wig and her beauty spots; and that heroic young
gentleman lifts her hand to his lips, and swears deeply that, for a glance
from her bright eyes, he would go forth and capture Quebec single-handed.

While these dalliances were in progress, the French jumping-jacks were
putting things in order to receive their expected guests in a becoming
manner. They held a great pow-wow of representatives of Indian tribes from
all parts of the seat of the projected war, and bound them by compacts to
their assistance. Everybody, even the women, worked on the fortifications,
or on anything that might aid in the common defense. Before the end of
August, at which time the outlookers reported signs of a fleet of near a
hundred sail, flying the British flag, all was ready for them in the
French strongholds. So now let the mighty combat begin.

But it was not to come this time: the era of William Pitt and General
Wolfe was nearly half a century distant. The latter would not be born for
sixteen years, and the former was a pap-eating babe of three. Meanwhile
the redoubtable Hovenden was snoring in bed, while his fleet was
struggling in a dense fog at night, being driven on the shoals of the Egg
Islands near the mouth of the St. Lawrence. "For the Lord's sake, come on
deck!" roars Captain Goddard, thrusting his head into the cabin for the
second time, "or we shall all be lost!" Thus adjured, the old imbecile
huddles on his dressing gown and slippers, and finds himself, sure enough,
close on a lee shore. He made shift to get his own vessel out of harm's
way, but eight others went down, and near nine hundred men were drowned.
"Impossible to go on," was the vote of the council of war the next
morning; and "It's all for the best," added this remarkable admiral; "for
had we got to Quebec, ten or twelve thousand of us must have perished of
cold and hunger; Providence took eight hundred to save the rest!"

So back they went, with their tails between their legs, without having
had a glimpse of the citadel which they were to have captured without an
effort; and of course the army waiting at Albany for the word to advance
got news of a different color, and Montreal was as safe as Quebec. In the
west, the Foxes, having planned an attack on Detroit, did really lay siege
to it; but Du Buisson, who defended it, summoned a swarm of Indian allies
to his aid, and the Foxes found that the boot was on the other leg; they
were all either slain or carried into slavery. Down in the Carolinas, a
party of Tuscaroras attacked a settlement of Palatines near Pamlico Sound,
and wiped them out; and some Huguenots at Bath fared little better.
Disputes between the governor and the burgesses prevented aid from
Virginia; but Barnwell of South Carolina succeeded in making terms with
the enemy. A desultory and exhausting warfare continued however,
complicated with an outbreak of yellow fever, and it was not until 1713
that the Tuscaroras were driven finally out of the country, and were
incorporated with the Iroquois in the north. The war in Europe had by that
time come also to an end, and the treaty of Utrecht brought about an
ambiguous peace for a generation.

George I. now became king of England; because he was the son of Sophia,
granddaughter of James I., and professed the Protestant religion. He was a
Hanoverian German, and did not understand the English language; he was
stupid and disreputable, and better fitted to administer a German
bierstube than a great kingdom. But the Act of Settlement of 1701 had
stipulated that if William or Anne died childless, the Protestant issue of
Sophia should succeed. That such a man should prove an acceptable
sovereign both to Great Britain and her American colonies, showed that the
individuality on the throne had become secondary to the principles which
he stood for; besides, George profited by the easy, sagacious,
good-humored leadership of that unprincipled but common-sensible
man-of-the-world, Sir Robert Walpole, who was prime minister from 1715 to
1741, with an interval of only a couple of years. Walpole's aim was to
avoid wars and develop commerce and manufactures; and while he lived, the
colonies enjoyed immunity from conflicts with the French and Spanish.

They were not to forget the use of arms, however; for the Indians were
inevitably encroached upon by the expanding white population, and resented
it in the usual way. In 1715 the Yemasses began a massacre on the Carolina
borders; they were driven off by Charles Craven, after the colonists had
lost four hundred men. The proprietors had given no help in the war, and
after it was over, the colony renounced allegiance to them, and the
English government supported their revolt, regarding it in the light of an
act of loyalty to George. Francis Nicholson, a governor by profession, and
of great experience in that calling, was appointed royal governor, and
made peace with the tribes; and in 1729 the crown bought out the claims of
the proprietors. North Carolina, without a revolt, enjoyed the benefits
obtained by their southern brethren. The Cherokees became a buffer against
the encroachments of the French from the west.

In the north, meanwhile, the Abenakis, in sympathy with the French,
claimed the region between the Kennebec and the St. Croix, and applied to
the French for assistance. Sebastian Rasles, a saintly Jesuit priest and
Indian missionary, had made his abode at Norridgwock on the Kennebec; he
was regarded by Massachusetts as an instigator of the enemy. They seized
his post, he escaping for the time; the Indians burned Brunswick; but in
1723 Westbrooke with a company of hardy provincials, who knew more of
Indian warfare than the Indians themselves, attacked an Indian fort near
the present Bangor and destroyed it; the next year Norridgwock was
surprised, and Rasles slain. He met his death with the sublime
cheerfulness and courage which were the badge of his order. French
influence in northeastern Massachusetts was at an end, and John Lovewell,
before he lost his life by an ambush of Saco Indians at Battle Brook, had
made it necessary for the Indians to sue for peace. Commerce took the
place of religion as a subjugating force, and an era of prosperity began
for the northeastern settlements.

There was no settled boundary between northern New York and the French
regions. Each party used diplomatic devices to gain advantage. Both built
trading stations on doubtful territory, which developed into forts. Burnet
of New York founded Oswego in 1727, and gained a strip of land from the
Iroquois; France built a fort on Lake Champlain in 1731. Six years before
that, they had established, by the agency of the sagacious trader
Joncaire, a not less important fort at Niagara. Upon the whole, the French
gained the better of their rivals in these negotiations.

Louisiana, as the French possessions, or claims, south of Canada were
called, was meanwhile bidding fair to cover most of the continent west of
the Alleghanies and north of the indeterminate Spanish region which
overspread the present Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Mexico.
No boundary lines could be run in those enormous western expanses; and it
made little practical difference whether a given claim lay a thousand
miles this way or that. But on the east it was another matter. The French
pursued their settled policy of conciliating the Indians wherever they
hoped to establish themselves; but though this was well, it was not
enough. Narrow though the English strip of territory was, the inhabitants
greatly outnumbered the French, and were correspondingly more wealthy.
Spotswood of Virginia, in 1710, was for pushing out beyond the mountains,
and Logan of Pennsylvania also called Walpole's attention to the troubles
ahead; but the prime minister would take no action. On the other hand, the
white population of Louisiana was ridiculously small, and their trade
nothing worth mentioning; but when Anthony Crozar resigned the charter he
had received for the district, it was taken up by the famous John Law, the
English goldsmith's son, who had become chief financial adviser of the
Regent of France; and immediately the face of things underwent a change
like the magic transformations of a pantomime.

The Regent inherited from Louis XIV. a debt which there was not money
enough in all France to pay. Law had a plan to pay it by the issue of
paper. Louisiana offered itself as just the thing for purposes of
investment, and a pretext for the issue of unlimited "shares." Not to
speak of the gold and silver, there was unlimited wealth in the unknown
country, and Law assumed that it could be produced at once. Companies were
formed, and thousands of settlers rushed to the promised paradise. But we
have to do with the Mississippi Bubble only as it affected America. The
Bubble burst, but the settlers remained, and were able to prosper, in
moderation, like other settlers in a fertile country. A great area of land
was occupied. Local tribes of Indians joined in a massacre of the
colonists in 1729. They in turn were nearly exterminated by the French
forces during the next two years, but the war aroused a new hostility
among the red tribes against the French, which redounded to the English
advantage. In 1740, Bienville was more than willing to make a peace, which
left to France no more than nominal control of the tract of country
drained by the southern twelve hundred miles of the Mississippi. The
population, after all the expense and efforts of half a century, numbered
about five thousand white persons, with upward of two thousand slaves. The
horse is his who rides it. The French had not proved themselves as good
horsemen as the English. The English colonies had at the same time a
population of about half a million; their import and export trade
aggregated nearly four million dollars; they had a wide and profitable
trade; and the only thing they could complain of was the worthless or
infamous character of the majority of the officials which the shameless
corruption of the Walpole administration sent out to govern--in other
words, to prey upon--them. But if this was the only subject of complaint,
it could not be termed a small subject. It meant the enforcement of the
Navigation Acts in their worst form, and the restriction of all manner of
manufactures. Manufactures would tend to make the colonies set up for
themselves, and therefore they must be forbidden:--such was the
undisguised argument. It was a case of the goose laying golden eggs.
America had in fact become so enormously valuable that England wanted it
to become profit and nothing else--and all the profit to be England's.
They still failed to realize that it was inhabited by human beings, and
that those human beings were of English blood. And because the northern
colonies, though the more industrious, produced things which might
interfere with British goods, therefore they were held down more than the
southern colonies, which grew only tobacco, sugar, rice and indigo, which
could in no degree interfere with the sacred shopkeepers and mill-owners
of England. An insanity of blindness and perversity seized upon the
English government, and upon most of the people; they actually were
incapable of seeing justice, or even their own best interests. It seems
strange to us now; but it was a mania, like that of witchcraft, though it
lasted thrice as many years as that did months.

The will of England in respect of the colonies became as despotic as
under the Stuarts; but though it delayed progress, it could not break down
the resistance of the assemblies; and Walpole would consent to no
suggestion looking toward enforcing it by arms. Stamp duties were spoken
of, but not enacted. The governors raged and complained, but the
assemblies held the purse-strings. Would-be tyrants like Shute of Boston
might denounce woe, and Crosby of New York bellow treason, but they were
fain to succumb. Paper money wrought huge mischief, but nothing could
prevent the growing power and wealth of the colonies, fed, also, by the
troubles in Europe. In 1727 the Irish, always friends of liberty, began to
arrive in large numbers. But what was of better augury than all else was
the birth of two men, one in Virginia, the other in Boston. The latter was
named Benjamin Franklin: the former, George Washington.



There are times when, upon nations as upon individuals, there comes a
wave of evil tendency, which seems to them not evil, but good. Under its
influence they do and think things which afterward amaze them in the
retrospect. But such ill seasons are always balanced by the presence and
opposition of those who desire good, whether from selfish or altruistic
motives. And since good alone has a root, connecting it with the eternal
springs of life, therefore in the end it prevails, and the movement of the
race is on the whole, and in the lapse of time, toward better conditions.

England, during the Eighteenth Century, came under the influence of a
selfish spirit which could not but lead her toward disaster, though at the
time it seemed as if it promoted only prosperity and power. She thought
she could strengthen her own life by restricting the natural enterprise
and development of her colonies: that she could subsist by sucking human
blood. She believed that by compelling the produce of America to flow
toward herself alone, and by making America the sole recipient of her own
manufactures, she must be immeasurably and continually benefited; not
perceiving that the colonies could never reach the full limit of their
productiveness unless freedom were conceded to all the impulses of their
energy, or that the greater the number of those nations who were allowed
freely to supply colonial wants, the greater those wants would become.
Moreover, selfishness is never consistent, because it does not respect the
selfishness of others; and England, at the same time that she was
maintaining her own trade monopolies, was illicitly undermining the
similar monopolies of other nations. She promoted smuggling in the Spanish
West Indies, and made might right in all her dealings with foreign
peoples. The assiento--the treaty giving her exclusive right to supply the
West Indian islands with African slaves--was actively carried out, and the
slave-trade reached enormous proportions; it is estimated that from three
to nine millions of Africans were imported into the American and Spanish
colonies during the first half of the Eighteenth Century, yielding a
revenue for their importation alone of at least four hundred million
dollars. But the profit did not end there; for their labor on the
plantations in the southern colonies (where alone they could be used in
appreciable numbers) multiplied the production and diminished the cost of
the articles of commerce which those colonies raised. There were
individuals, almost from the beginning, who objected to slavery on grounds
of abstract morality; and others who held that a converted African should
cease to be a slave. But these opinions did not impress the bulk of the
people; and laws were passed classing negroes with merchandise. "The trade
is very beneficial to the country" was the stereotyped reply to all
humanitarian arguments. The cruelties of transportation in small vessels
were regarded as an unavoidable, if disagreeable, necessity; it was
pointed out that the masters of slaves would be prompted by self-interest
to treat them well after they were landed; and it was obvious that
negroes, after a generation of captivity, were less remote from
civilization than when fresh from Africa.

The good to balance this ill was supplied by the American colonies. Their
resistance to English selfishness may have been in part animated by
selfishness of their own; but it none the less had justice and right
behind it. In any argument on fundamental principles, the colonists always
had the better of it. Their rights as free men and as chartered
communities were indefeasible, were always asserted, and never given up.
They did not hesitate to disregard the more unjust of England's exactions
and restrictions; it was only by such defiance that they maintained their
life. And against the importation of slaves there was a general feeling,
even among the Southern planters; because, not to speak of other
considerations, they multiplied there to an alarming extent, and the fact
that they cheapened production and lowered prices was manifestly as
unwelcome to the planters as it was favorable to English traders.

But in order to be effective, the protest of a people--their
enlightenment, their virtue and patriotism, their courage and philosophy,
their firmness and self-reliance, their hatred of shams, dishonesty and
tyranny--must be embodied and summed up in certain individuals among them,
who may thus be recognized by the community as their representatives in
the fullest sense, and therefore as their natural champions and leaders.
America has never lacked such men, adapted to her need; and at this period
they were coming to maturity as Franklin and Washington. They will be with
us during the critical hours of our formative history, and we shall have
opportunity to measure their characters. Meanwhile there is another good
man deserving of passing attention; not born on our soil, but meriting to
be called, in the best sense, an American. In the midst of a corrupt and
self-seeking age, he was unselfish and pure; and while many uttered pretty
sentiments of philanthropy, and devised fanciful Utopias for the
transfiguration of the human race, he went to work with his hands and
purse as well as with his heart and head, and created a home and happiness
for unhappy and unfortunate people in one of the loveliest and most
fertile spots in the western world. If he was not as wise as Penn, he was
as kind; and if his colony did not succeed precisely as he had planned it
should, at any rate it became a happy and prosperous settlement, which
would not have existed but for him. He had not fully fathomed the truth
that in order to bestow upon man the best chance for earthly felicity, we
must, after having provided him with the environment and the means for it,
let him alone to work it out in his own way. But he had such magnanimity
that when he found that his carefully-arranged and detailed schemes were
inefficient, he showed no resentment, and did not try to enforce what had
seemed to him expedient, against the wishes of his beneficiaries; but
retired amiably and with dignity, and thus merited the purest gratitude
that men may properly accord to a man.

James Edward Oglethorpe was already five years old when the Eighteenth
Century began. He was a Londoner by birth, and had a fortune which he did
not misuse. He was a valiant soldier against the Turks; he was present
with Prince Eugene at the capitulation of Belgrade; and he sat for more
than thirty years in Parliament. He died at the age of ninety; though
there is a portrait of him extant said to have been taken when he was one
hundred and two. If long life be the reward of virtue, he deserved to
survive at least a century.

The speculative fever in England had brought about much poverty; and
debtors were lodged in jail in order, one might suppose, to prevent them
from taking any measures to liquidate their debts. Besides these unhappy
persons, there were many Protestants on the Continent who were persecuted
for their faith's sake. England compassionated these persons, having
learned by experience what persecution is; and did not offer any objection
to a scheme for improving the lot of debtors in her own land, if any
feasible one could be devised.

General Oglethorpe had devised one. He was then, according to our
reckoning, a mature man of about seven-and-thirty; he had visited the
prisons, and convinced himself that there was neither political economy
nor humanity in this method of preserving the impecunious class. Why not
take them to America? Why not found a new colony there where men might
dwell in peace and comfort, with the aim not of amassing wealth, but of
living sober and useful lives? On the southern side of South Carolina
there was a region fitted for such an enterprise, which, owing to its
proximity to the Spanish colony at St. Augustine, had been vexed by border
quarrels; but Oglethorpe, with his military experience, would be able to
keep the Spaniards in their place with one hand, while he was planting
gardens for his proteges with the other. Thus his colony would be useful
on grounds of high policy, as well as for its own ends. And in order
additionally to conciliate the good will of the home government,
controlled as it was by mercantile interests chiefly, the silk-worm should
be cultivated there, and England thus saved the duties on the Italian
fabrics. Should there be slaves in the new Eden?--On all accounts, No:
first because slavery was intrinsically wrong, and secondly because it
would lead to idleness, if not to wealth, among the colonists. For the
same reason, land could only pass to the eldest son, or failing male
issue, back to the state; if permission were given to divide it, or to
sell it, there would soon be great landed properties and an aristocracy.
Nor should the importation of rum be permitted, for if men have rum, they
are prone to drink it, and drunkenness was incompatible with the kind of
existence which the good General wished his colonists to lead. In a word,
by removing temptations to vice and avarice, he thought he could make his
people forget that such evils had ever belonged to human nature. But
experiments founded upon the innate impeccability of man have furnished
many comedies and not a few tragedies since the world began.

The Oglethorpe idea, however, appealed to the public, and became a sort
of fashionable fad. It was commended, and after Parliament had voted ten
thousand pounds toward it, it was everywhere accepted as the correct
thing. The charter was given in June, 1732, and a suitable design was not
wanting for the corporation seal--silkworms, with the motto, Non Sibi, sed
Aliis. This might refer either to the colonists or to the patrons, since
the latter were to receive no emoluments for their services, and the
former were to work for the sake, in part at least, of vindicating the
nobility of labor. It is true that the silkworm is an involuntary and
unconscious altruist; but we must allow some latitude in symbols; and
besides, all executive and legislative power was given to the trustees, or
such council as they might choose to appoint.

In November the general conducted his hundred or more human derelicts to
Port Royal, and, going up the stream, chose the site for his city of
Savannah, and laid it out in liberal parallelograms. While it was building
he tented beneath a quartette of primeval pines, and exchanged friendly
greetings and promises with the various Indian tribes who sent deputies to
him. A year from that time, the German Protestant refugees began to
arrive, and started a town of their own further inland. A party of
Moravians followed; and the two Wesleys aided to introduce an exalted
religious sentiment which might have recalled the days of the Pilgrims.
For the present, all went harmoniously; the debtors were thankful to be
out of prison; the religious folk were happy so long as they might wreak
themselves on their religion; and the silk-culture paid a revenue so long
as England paid bounties on it. But the time must come when the colonists
would demand to do what they liked with their own land, and other things;
when they would import rum by stealth and hardly blush to be found out;
when some of the less democratically-minded decided that there were
advantages in slaves after all; and when some of the more independent
declared they could not endure oppression, and migrated to other colonies.
After struggling a score of years against the inevitable, the trustees
surrendered their trusteeship, and the colony came under the management of
the Second George. Oglethorpe had long ere this retired to England, after
having kept his promise of reducing the Spaniards to order; and at his
home at Cranham Hall in Essex he continued to be the friend of man until
after the close of the American Revolution.

The war with Spain, of which Oglethorpe's unsuccessful attack upon St.
Augustine and triumphant defense of his own place was but a very minor
feature, raged for a while in the West Indies with no very marked
advantage to either contestant, and then drew the other nations of Europe
into the fray. Nothing creditable was being fought for on either side.
England, to be sure, had declared war with the object of expunging Spain
from America; but it had been only in order that she herself might replace
Spain there as a monopolist. France came in to prevent England from
enjoying this monopoly. The death of the Austrian king and a consequent
dispute as to the succession added that power to the melee. Russia
received an invitation to join, and this finally led to the Peace of Aix
La Chapelle in 1748, which replaced all things in dispute just where they
were before innumerable lives and enormous treasure had been expended. But
the Eighteenth was a fighting Century, for it was the transition period
from the old to the new order of civilized life.

The part borne by the American colonies in this struggle was quite
subordinate and sympathetic; but it was not the less interesting to the
Americans. In 1744 the Six Nations (as the Five had been called since the
accession of the Tuscaroras) made a treaty of alliance with the English
whereby the Ohio valley was secured to the latter as against the French--
so far, that is, as the Indians could secure it. But the Pennsylvanians
understood that more than Indian treaties would be needed against France,
and as their country was likely to be among the first involved, they
determined to raise money and men for the campaign. There were, of course,
men in Pennsylvania who were not of the Quaker way of thinking; but even
the Quakers forbore to oppose the measure, and many of them gave it
explicit approval. The incident gains its chief interest however from the
fact that the man most active and efficient in getting both the funds and
the soldiers was Benjamin Franklin, the Boston boy, in whose veins flowed
the blood of both Quaker and Calvinist, but who was himself of far too
original a character to be either. He was at this epoch just past forty,
and had been a resident of Philadelphia for some twenty years, and a
famous printer, writer, and man of mark. He hit upon the scheme--which,
like so many of his, was more practical than orthodox--of persuading
dollars out of men's pockets by means of a lottery. He knew that, whatever
a fastidious morality might protest, lotteries are friendly to human
nature; and if there be any part of human nature with which Franklin was
unacquainted, it has not yet been announced. Having got the money, his
next care was for the men; and his plans resulted in assembling an
organized force of ten or twelve thousand militiamen. But the energy and
ingenuity of this incomparable Franklin of ours could be equaled only by
his modesty; he would not accept a colonelcy, but shouldered his musket
along with the rank and file; and doubtless the company to which he
belonged forgot the labors of war in their enjoyment of his wit, humor,
anecdotes, parables, and resources of all kinds.

After so much waste and folly as had marked the conduct of the war in
Europe, it is good to hear the tale of the capture of Louisburg. It was an
adventure which gave the colonists merited confidence in themselves, and
the character of the little army, and the management of the campaign, were
an excellent and suggestive dress rehearsal of the great drama of thirty
years later. The army was a combination of Yankees with arms in their
hands to effect an object eminently conducive to the common welfare. For
Louisburg was the key to the St. Lawrence, it commanded the fisheries, and
it threatened Acadia, or rather Nova Scotia, which was inhabited chiefly
by Bretons, liable to afford succor to their belligerent brethren. The
fort had been built, after the close of the former war, by those who had
preferred not to live under the government of the House of Hanover, on the
eastern extremity of the island called Cape Breton, itself lying northeast
of the Nova Scotian promontory. The site was good for defense, and the
fortifications, scientifically designed, were held to be impregnable. Had
Louisburg rested content with being strong, it might have been allowed to
remain at peace; but at the beginning of the war, and before the frontier
people in Nova Scotia had heard of it, a French party swooped down from
Louisburg on the settlement at Canso (the gut between Cape Breton and Nova
Scotia), destroyed all that was destructible, and carried eighty men as
prisoners of war to their stronghold. After keeping them there during the
summer, these men were paroled and went to Boston. This was a mistake on
the Louisburgers' part; for the men had made themselves well acquainted
with the fortifications and the topography of the neighborhood, and placed
this useful information at the disposal of William Shirley, a lawyer of
ability, who was afterward governor of the colony, and a warrior of some
note. It was Shirley's opinion that Louisburg must be taken, and the idea
immediately became popular. It was the main topic of discussion in Boston,
and all over New England, during the autumn and winter; Massachusetts
decided that it could be done, and that she could do it, though the help
of other colonies would be gladly accepted. Yet the feeling was not
unanimous, if the vote of the legislature be a criterion; the bill passed
there by a majority of one. Be that as it may, once resolved upon, the
enterprise was pushed with ardor, not unmingled with prayer--the old
Puritan leaven reappearing as soon as deeds of real moment were in the
wind. In every village and hamlet there was excitement and preparation
--the warm courage of men glad to have a chance at the hated fortress, and
the pale bravery of women keeping down the heavy throbbing of their hearts
so that their sons and husbands might feel no weakness for their sakes.
The fishermen of Marblehead, used to face the storms and fogs of the
Newfoundland Banks; the farmers and mechanics, who could hit a Bay
shilling (if one could be found in that era of paper money) at fifty
paces; and the hunters, who knew the craft of the Indians and were inured
to every fatigue and hardship--finer material for an army was never got
together before: independent, bold, cunning, handy, inventive, full of
resource; but utterly ignorant of drill, and indifferent to it. Their
officers were chosen by themselves, of the same rank and character as
they; their only uniforms were their flintlocks and hangers. They marched
and camped as nature prompted, but they had common-sense developed to the
utmost by the exigencies of their daily lives, and they created, simply by
being together, a discipline and tactics of their own; they even learned
enough of the arts of fortification and intrenchment, during the siege, to
serve all their requirements. They had the American instinct to break
loose from tradition and solve problems from an original point of view;
they laughed at the jargon and technicalities of conventional war, but
they had their own passwords, and they understood one another in and out.
The carpenters and other mechanics among them carried their skill along,
and were ever ready to put it in practice for the general behoof. Most of
them left wives and children at home; but "Suffer no anxious thoughts to
rest in your mind about me," writes his wife to Seth Pomeroy, who had sent
word to her that he was "willing to stay till God's time comes to deliver
the city into our hands":--"I leave you in the hands of God," added she;
and subjoined, by way of village gossip, that "the whole town is much
engaged with concern for the expedition, how Providence will order the
affair, for which religious meetings every week are maintained." We can
imagine those meetings, held in the village meeting-house, with an infirm
old veteran of King William's War to lead in prayer, and the benches
occupied by the women, devout but spirited, with the little children by
their sides. What hearty prayers: what sighs irrepressibly heaving those
brave, tender bosoms; what secret tears, denied by smiles when the face
was lifted from the clasping hands! Righteous prayers, which were

Over three thousand men went from Massachusetts alone; New Hampshire
added five hundred, and more than that number arrived from Connecticut,
after the rest had gone into camp at Canso. The three hundred from little
Rhode Island came too late. Other colonies sent rations and money. But the
four thousand were enough, with Pepperel of Kittery for commander, and a
good cause. They set out alone while the Cape Breton ice still filled the
harbors; for Commodore Warren of the English fleet at Antigua would not go
except by order from England--which, however, came soon afterward, so that
he and his ships joined them after all before hostilities began. The
expedition first set eyes on their objective point on the day before May
day, 1745.

The fortress bristled with guns of all sizes, and the walls were of
enormous thickness, so that no cannon belonging to the besiegers could
hope to make a breach in them. But the hearts of the garrison were less
stout than their defenses; and when four hundred cheering volunteers
approached a battery on shore, the Frenchmen spiked their guns and ran

The siege lasted six weeks, with unusually fine weather. In the intervals
of attacks upon the island battery, which resisted them, the men hunted,
fished, played rough outdoor games, and kept up their spirits; and they
pounded Louisburg gates with their guns; but no advantage was gained; and
a night-attack, in the Indian style, was discovered prematurely, and
nearly two hundred men were killed or captured. Finally, there seemed to
be nothing for it but to escalade the walls, Warren--who had done nothing
thus far except prevent relief from approaching by sea--bombarding the
city meanwhile. It hardly seems possible the attempt could have succeeded;
at best, the losses would have been enormous. But at the critical moment,
depressed, perhaps, by having witnessed the taking of an incautious French
frigate which had tried to run the blockade, what should the French
commander do but hang out a white flag! Yes, the place had capitulated!
The gates that could not be hammered in with cannon-balls were thrown
open, and in crowded the Yankee army, laughing, staring, and thanking the
Lord of Hosts for His mercies. Truly, it was like David overcoming
Goliath, without his sling. It was a great day for New England; and on the
same day thirty years later the British redcoats fell beneath the volleys
on Bunker Hill.

The French tried to recapture the place next year, but storms, pestilence
and other disasters prevented; and the only other notable incident of the
war was the affair of Commander Knowles at Boston in 1747. He was anchored
off Nantasket with a squadron, when some of his tars deserted, as was not
surprising, considering the sort of commander he was, and the charms of
the famous town. Knowles, ignorant of the spirit of a Boston mob,
impressed a number of wharfmen and seamen from vessels in the harbor; he
had done the same thing before in England, and why not here? But the mob
was on fire at once, and after the timid governor had declined to seize
such of the British naval officers as were in the town, the crowd,
terrible in its anger, came thundering down King Street and played the
sheriff for itself. The hair of His Majesty's haughty commanders and
lieutenants must have crisped under their wigs when they looked out of the
windows of the coffee-house and saw them. In walks the citizens'
deputation, with scant ceremony: protests are unavailing: off to jail His
Majesty's officers must straightway march, leaving their bottles of wine
half emptied, and their chairs upset on the sawdusted floor; and in jail
must they abide, until those impressed Bostonians have been liberated. It
was a wholesome lesson; and among the children who ran and shouted beside
the procession to the prison were those who, when they were men grown,
threw the tea into Boston Harbor.

In 1748 the Peace was made, and the Duke of Newcastle, a flighty, trivial
and faithless creature, gave place to the strict, honest, and narrow Duke
of Bedford as Secretary of the Colonies. The colonies had been under the
charge of the Board of Commissioners, who could issue what orders they
chose, but had no power to enforce them; and as the colonial assemblies
slighted their commands except when it pleased them to do otherwise, much
exasperation ensued on the Commissioners' part. The difficulties would
have been minimized had it not been the habit of Newcastle to send out as
colonial officials the offscourings of the British aristocracy: and when a
British aristocrat is worthless, nothing can be more worthless than he.
The upshot of the situation was that the colonists did what they pleased,
regardless of orders from home; while yet the promulgation of those
orders, aiming to defend injustices and iniquities, kept up a chronic and
growing disaffection toward England. So it had been under Newcastle, who
had uniformly avoided personal annoyance by omitting to read the constant
complaints of the Commissioners; but Bedford was a man of another stamp,
fond of business, granite in his decisions, and resolved to be master in
his department. It was easy to surmise that his appointment would hasten
the drift of things toward a crisis. England would not tamely relinquish
her claim to absolute jurisdiction over her colonies. But the bulwarks of
popular liberty were rising in America, and every year saw them
strengthened and more ably manned. English legislative opposition only
defined and solidified the colonial resistance. What was to be the result?
There would be no lack of English statesmen competent to consider it; men
like Pitt, Murray and Townshend were already above the horizon of history.
But it was not by statesmanship that the issue was to be decided. Man is
proud of his intellect; but it is generally observable that it is the
armed hand that settles the political problems of the world.

There were in the colonies men of ability, and of consideration, who were
traitors to the cause of freedom. Such were Thomas Hutchinson, a plausible
hypocrite, not devoid of good qualities, but intent upon filling his
pockets from the public purse; Oliver, a man of less ability but equal
avarice; and William Shirley, the scheming lawyer from England, who had
made America his home in order to squeeze a living out of it. These men
went to England to promote the passage of a law insuring a regular revenue
for the civil list from the colonists, independent of the latter's
approval; the immediate pretext being that money was needed to protect the
colonies against French encroachments. The several assemblies refused to
consent to such a tax; and the question was then raised whether Parliament
had not the right to override the colonists' will. Lord Halifax, the First
Commissioner, was urgent in favor of the proposition; he was an ignorant,
arbitrary man, who laid out a plan for the subjugation of the colonies as
lightly and willfully as he might have directed the ditch-digging and
fence-building on his estates. Murray, afterward Lord Mansfield, held that
Parliament had the requisite power; but in the face of the united protest
of the colonies, that body laid the measure aside for the present.
Meanwhile the conditions of future trouble were preparing in the Ohio
Valley, where French and English were making conflicting claims and
planting rival stations; and in Nova Scotia, where the town of Halifax was
founded in an uninviting fir forest, and the project was mooted of
transporting the French Acadians to some place or places where they would
cease to constitute a peril by serving as a stage for French machinations
against the English rule.

Another and final war with France was already appearing inevitable; the
colonists must bear a hand in it, but they also were at odds with England
herself on questions vital to their prosperity and happiness. In the
welter of events of the next few years we find a mingling of conditions
deliberately created (with a view, on England's part, of checking the
independent tendencies of the Americans and of forcing tribute from them)
and of unforeseen occurrences due to fortuitous causes beyond the
calculation and control of persons in power. Finally, the declaration of
war against France in 1756--though it had unofficially existed at least
two years before--and its able management by the great Pitt, enabled
England to dictate a peace in 1763 giving her all she asked for in Europe
and the East, and the whole of the French possessions in America, besides
islands in the West Indies. Her triumph was great; but she did not foresee
(though a few acute observers did) that this great conquest would within a
few years fall into the hands of the colonists, making them potentially
the greatest of nations. At the era of the Revolution, the white
inhabitants in the colonies numbered about two millions, and the black
about half a million.

In 1754, the French had upward of sixty posts west of the Alleghanies,
and were sending expeditions to drive out whatever Englishmen could be
found. The Indian tribes who believed themselves to own the land were
aroused, and appealed to the Americans to assist them; which the latter
were willing to do, though not for the Indians' sake. Virginia was
especially concerned, because she claimed beyond the western mountains,
and had definite designs in that direction. In order to find out just what
the disposition of the French might be, Robert Dinwiddie, a Scot, governor
of Virginia, selected a trustworthy envoy to proceed to the French
commanders in the disputed districts and ask their purposes. His choice
fell upon George Washington, a young man of blameless character, steady,
courageous and observant, wise in judgment and of mature mind, though he
was but one and twenty years of age. He was the son of a Virginia planter,
had had such schooling as his neighborhood afforded until he was sixteen,
and had then begun life as a surveyor--a good calling in a country whose
inhabitants were daily increasing and whose lands were practically
limitless. Life in the open air, and the custom of the woods and hills,
had developed a frame originally powerful into that of a tall and hardened
athlete, able to run, wrestle, swim, leap, ride, as well as to use the
musket and the sword. His intellect was not brilliant, but it was clear,
and his habit of thought methodical; he was of great modesty, yet one of
those who rise to the emergency, and are kindled into greater and greater
power by responsibilities or difficulties which would overwhelm feebler or
less constant natures. None would have been less likely than Washington
himself to foretell his own greatness; but when others believed in him he
was compelled by his religious and conscientious nature to act up to their
belief. The marvelous selflessness of the man, while it concealed from him
what he was, immeasurably increased his power to act; to do his duty was
all that he ever proposed to himself, and therefore he was able to
concentrate his every faculty on that alone. The lessons of experience
were never thrown away upon him, and his faith in an overruling Providence
rendered him calm at all times, except on the rare occasions when some
subordinate's incompetence or negligence at a critical moment caused to
burst forth in him that terrific wrath which was more appalling to its
object than the guns of a battery. There was always great personal dignity
in Washington, insomuch that nothing like comradeship, in the familiar
sense, was ever possible to any one with him; he was totally devoid of the
sense of humor, and was therefore debarred from one whole region of human
sympathies which Franklin loved to dwell in. It is one of the marvels of
history that a man with a mind of such moderate compass as Washington's
should have gained the reputation, which he amply deserved, of being the
foremost American of his age, and one of the leading figures in human
annals. But, in truth, we attach far too much weight to intellect in our
estimates of human worth. Washington, was competent for the work that was
given him to do, and that work was one of the most important that ever
fell to the lot of a man. Faith, firmness, integrity, grasp, simplicity,
and the exceptional physical endowment which enabled him to support the
tremendous fatigues and trials of his campaigns, and of the opposition he
encountered from selfish and shortsighted politicians in Congress--these
qualities were almost sufficient to account for Washington. Almost, but
perhaps not quite; there must have been in addition an inestimable
personal equation which fused all into a harmonious individuality that
isolates him in our regard: a wholeness, which can be felt, but which is
hardly to be set down in phrases.

Washington's instructions required him to proceed to Venango and
Waterford, a distance of more than four hundred miles, through forests and
over mountains, with rivers to cross and hostile Indians to beware of; and
it was the middle of November when he set out, with the most inclement
season of the year before him. Kit Gist, a hunter and trapper of the Natty
Bumppo order, was his guide; they laid their course through the dense but
naked forests as a mariner over a sullen sea. Four or five attendants,
including an interpreter, made up the party. Day after day they rode,
sleeping at night round a fire, with the snow or the freezing rain falling
on their blankets, and the immense silence of the winter woods around
them. On the 23d of the month they came to the point of junction between
two great rivers--the Monongahela and the Alleghany. A wild and solitary
spot it was, hardly visited till then by white men; the land on the fork
was level and broad, with mighty trees thronging upon it; opposite were
steep bluffs. The Alleghany hurried downward at the rate a man would walk;
the Monongahela loitered, deep and glassy. Washington had acted as
adjutant of a body of Virginia troops for the past two or three years, and
he examined the place with the eyes of a soldier as well as of a surveyor.
It seemed to him that a fort and a town could be well placed there; but in
the pure frosty air of that ancient forest, untenanted save by wild
beasts, there was no foreshadowing of the grimy smoke and roar, the
flaring smelting-works, the crowded and eager population of the Pittsburgh
that was to be. Having fixed the scene in his memory, Washington rode his
horse down the river bank, and plunging into the icy current, swam across.
On the northwest shore a fire was built, where the party dried their
garments, and slept the sleep of frontiersmen.

Conducted now by the Delawares, they crossed low-lying, fertile lands to
Logstown, where they got news of a junction between French troops from
Louisiana and from Erie. Arriving in due season at Venango, Washington
found the French officer in command there very positive that the Ohio was
theirs, and that they would keep it; they admitted that the English
outnumbered them; but "they are too dilatory," said the Frenchman, staring
up with an affectation of superciliousness at the tall, blue-eyed young
Virginian. The latter thanked the testy Gaul, with his customary grave
courtesy, and continued his journey to Fort Le Boeuf. It was a structure
characteristic of the place and period; a rude but effective redoubt of
logs and clay, with the muzzles of cannon pouting from the embrasures, and
more than two hundred boats and canoes for the trip down the river. "I
shall seize every Englishman in the valley," was the polite assurance of
the commander; but, being a man of pith himself, he knew another when he
saw him, and offered Washington the hospitalities of the post. But the
serious young soldier had no taste for hobnobbing, and returned at once to
Venango, where he found his horses unavailable, and continued southward on
foot, meeting bad weather and deep snow. He borrowed a deerskin shirt and
leggins from the tallest of the Indians, dismissed his attendants, left
the Indian trail, and struck out for the Forks by compass, with Gist as
his companion. A misguided red man, hoping for glory from the white
chief's scalp, prepared an ambush, and as Washington passed within a few
paces, pulled the trigger on him. He did not know that the destiny of half
the world hung upon his aim; but indeed the bullet was never molded that
could draw blood from Washington. The red man missed; and the next moment
Gist had him helpless, with a knife at his throat. But no: the man who
could pour out the lives of his country's enemies, and of his own
soldiers, without stint, when duty demanded it, and could hang a gallant
and gently nurtured youth as a spy, was averse from bloodshed when only
his insignificant self was concerned. Gist must sulkily put up his knife,
and the would-be assassin was suffered to depart in peace. But in order to
avoid the possible consequences of this magnanimity, the envoy and his
companion traveled without pausing for more than sixty miles. And then,
here was the Alleghany to cross again, and no horse to help one. Swimming
was out of the question, even for the iron Washington, for the river was
hurtling with jagged cakes of ice.

A day's hacking with a little hatchet cut down trees enough--not apple
trees--to make a raft, on which they adventured; but in mid-stream
Washington's pole upset him, and he was fain to get ashore on an island.
There must they pass the night; and so cold was it, that the next morning
they were able to reach the mainland dry shod, on the ice. What was
crossing the Delaware (almost exactly twenty-three years afterward)
compared to this? Washington was destined to do much of his work amid snow
and ice; but for aught anybody could say, the poles or the equator were
all one to him.

In consequence of his report a fort was begun on the site of Pittsburgh,
and he was appointed lieutenant-colonel to take charge of it, with a
hundred and fifty men, and orders to destroy whomsoever presumed to stay
him. Two hundred square miles of fertile Ohio lands were to be their
reward. An invitation to other colonies to join in the assertion of
English ownership met with scanty response, or none at all. The idea of a
union was in the air, but it was complicated with that old bugbear of a
regular revenue to be exacted by act of Parliament, which Shirley and the
others still continued to press with hungry zeal; while the assemblies
were not less set upon making all grants annual, with specifications as to
person and object. While the matter hung in the wind, the Virginians were
exposed to superior forces; but in the spring of 1754 Washington, with
forty men, surprised a party under Jumonville, defeated them, killed
Jumonville, and took the survivors prisoners. Washington was exposed to
the thickest showers of the bullets; they whistled to him familiarly, and
"believe me," he assured a correspondent, "there is something charming in
the sound." His life was to be sweetened by a great deal of that kind of

But the French were gathering like hornets, and the Lieutenant-colonel
must needs take refuge in a stockaded post named Fort Necessity, where his
small force was besieged by seven hundred French and Indians who, in a
nine hours' attack, killed thirty of his men, but used up most of their
own ammunition. A parley resulted in Washington's marching out with all
his survivors and their baggage and retiring from the Ohio valley. The war
was begun; and it is worth noting that Washington's command to "Fire!" on
Jumonville's party was the word that began it. But still the other
colonists held off. The Six Nations began to murmur: "The French are men,"
said they; "you are like women." In June, 1754, a convocation or congress
of deputies from all colonies north of the Potomac came together at
Albany. Franklin was among them, with the draught of a plan of union in
his ample pocket, and dauntless and deep thoughts in his broad mind. He
was always far in advance of his time; one of the most "modern" men of
that century; but he had the final excellence of wisdom which consists in
never forcing his contemporaries to bite off more than there was
reasonable prospect of their being able to chew. He lifted them gently up
step after step of the ascent toward the stars.

Philadelphia is a central spot (this was the gist of his proposal), so
let it be the seat of our federal government. Let us have a triennial
grand council to originate bills, allowing King George to appoint the
governor-general who may have a negative voice, and who shall choose the
military officers, as against the civil appointees of the council. All war
measures, external land purchases and organization, general laws and taxes
should be the province of the federal government, but each colony should
keep its private constitution, and money should issue only by common
consent. Once a year should the council meet, to sit not more than six
weeks, under a speaker of their own choosing.--In the debate, the scheme
was closely criticised, but the suave wielder of the lightning gently
disarmed all opponents, and won a substantial victory--"not altogether to
my mind"; but he insisted upon no counsel of perfection. England, and some
of the colonies themselves, were somewhat uneasy after thinking it over;
mutual sympathy is not created by reason. England doubted on other
grounds; a united country might be more easy to govern than thirteen who
each demanded special treatment; but then, what if the federation decline
to be governed at all? Meanwhile, there was the federation; and Franklin,
looking westward, foresaw the Nineteenth Century.

[Illustration: Death of General Braddock]

Doubtless, however, outside pressure would be necessary to re-enforce the
somewhat lukewarm sentiment among the colonies in favor of union. A review
of their several conditions at this time would show general prosperity and
enjoyment of liberty, but great unlikenesses in manners and customs and
private prejudices. Virginia, most important of the southern group, showed
the apparent contradiction of a people with republican ideas living after
the style of aristocrats; breeding great gentlemen like Washington,
Jefferson, Madison and Patrick Henry, who were to be leaders in the work
of founding and defending the first great democracy of the world. Maryland
was a picturesque principality under the rule of a dissolute young prince,
who enjoyed a great private revenue from his possessions, and yet
interfered but little with the individual freedom of his subjects.
Pennsylvania was administering itself on a basis of sheer civic equality,
and was absorbing from Franklin the principles of liberal thought and
education. New York was so largely tinged with Dutchmanship that it
resented more than the others the authority of alien England, and fought
its royal governors to the finish. New England was an aggregation of
independent towns, each a little democracy, full of religious and
educational vigor. In Delaware, John Woolman the tailor was denouncing
slavery with all the zeal and arguments of the Garrisons of a century
later. These were incongruous elements to be bound into a fagot; but there
was a policy being consolidated in England which would presently give them
good reason for standing together to secure rights which were more
precious than private pet traditions and peculiarities. Newcastle became
head of the English government; he appointed the absurd Duke of
Cumberland, captain-general of the English army, to the direction of
American military affairs; and he picked out an obstinate, ruffianly,
stupid martinet of a Perthshire Scotchman, sixty years old and of ruined
fortunes, to lead the English forces against the French in America.
Braddock went over armed with the new and despotic mutiny bill, and with
directions to divest all colonial army officers of their rank while in his
service. He was also to exact a revenue by royal prerogative, and the
governors were to collect a fund to be expended for colonial military
operations. This was Newcastle's notion of what was suitable for the
occasion. In the meantime Shirley, persistently malevolent, advocated
parliamentary taxation of the colonies and a congress of royal governors;
and to the arguments of Franklin against the plan, suggested colonial
representation in Parliament: which Franklin disapproved unless all
colonial disabilities be removed, and they become in all political
respects an integral portion of England. During the discussion, the
colonies themselves were resisting the royal prerogative with embarrassing
unanimity. Braddock, on landing and finding no money ready, was exceeding
wroth; but the helpless governors told him that nothing short of an act of
Parliament would suffice; possibly not even that. Taxation was the one cry
of every royal office-holder in America. What sort of a tax should it be?
--Well, a stamp-tax seemed the easiest method: a stamp, like a mosquito,
sucks but little blood at a time, but mosquitoes in the aggregate draw a
great deal. But the stamp act was to be delayed eleven years more, and
then its authors were to receive an unpleasant surprise.

There was a strong profession of reluctance on both the French and
English side to come formally to blows; both sent large bodies of troops
to the Ohio valley, "but only for defense." Braddock was ready to advance
in April, if only he had "horses and carriages"; which by Franklin's
exertions were supplied. The bits of dialogue and comment in which this
grizzled nincompoop was an interlocutor, or of which he was the theme, are
as amusing as a page from a comedy of Shakespeare. Braddock has been
called brave; but the term is inappropriate; he could fly into a rage when
his brutal or tyrannical instincts were questioned or thwarted, and become
insensible, for a time, even to physical danger. Ignorance, folly and
self-conceit not seldom make a man seem fearless who is a poltroon at
heart. Braddock's death was a better one than he deserved; he raged about
the field like a dazed bull; fly he could not; he was incapable of
adopting any intelligent measures to save his troops; on the contrary he
kept reiterating conventional orders in a manner that showed his wits were
gone. The bullet that dropped him did him good service; but his honor was
so little sensitive that he felt no gratitude at being thus saved the
consequences of one of the most disgraceful and willfully incurred defeats
that ever befell an English general. The English troops upon whom,
according to Braddock, "it was impossible that the savages should make any
impression," huddled together, and shot down their own officers in their
blundering volleys. In the narrow wood path they could not see the enemy,
who fired from behind trees at their leisure. Half of the men, and
sixty-three out of the eighty-six officers, were killed or wounded. In
that hell of explosions, smoke, yells and carnage, Washington was
clear-headed and alert, and passed to and fro amid the rain of bullets as
if his body were no more mortal than his soul. The contingent of Virginia
troops--the "raw American militia," as Braddock had called them, "who have
little courage or good will, from whom I expect almost no military
service, though I have employed the best officers to drill them":--these
men did almost the only fighting that was done on the English side, but
they were too few to avert the disaster.

The expedition had set out from Turtle Creek on the Monongahela on the
ninth of July--twelve hundred men. The objective point was Fort Duquesne,
"which can hardly detain me above three or four days," remarked the dull
curmudgeon. No scouts were thrown out: they walked straight into the
ambuscade which some two hundred French and six hundred Indians had
prepared for them. The slaughter lasted two hours; there was no
maneuvering. Thirty men of the three Virginia companies were left alive;
they stood their ground to the last, while the British regulars "ran as
sheep before hounds," leaving everything to the enemy. Washington did
whatever was possible to prevent the retreat from becoming a blind panic.
When the rout reached the camp, Dunbar, the officer in charge there,
destroyed everything, to the value of half a million dollars, and ran with
the rest. Reviewing the affair, Franklin remarks with a demure arching of
the eyebrow that it "gave us Americans the first suspicion that our
exalted ideas of the prowess of British regular troops had not been well

It was indeed an awakening for the colonists. For all their bold
resistance to oppression, they had never ceased to believe that an English
soldier was the supreme and final expression of trained and disciplined
force; and now, before their almost incredulous eyes, the flower of the
British army had been beaten, and the bloody remnant stampeded into a
shameful flight by a few hundred painted savages and Frenchmen. They all
had been watching Braddock's march; and they never forgot the lesson of
his defeat. From that time, the British regular was to them only a
"lobster-back," more likely, when it came to equal conflict with
themselves, to run away than to stand his ground.

Instead of throwing themselves into the arms of France, however, the
colonists loyally addressed themselves to helping King George out of his
scrape; and though they would not let him tax them, they hesitated not to
tax themselves.

Pennsylvania raised fifty thousand pounds, and Massachusetts sent near
eight thousand men to aid in driving the French from the northern border.
Acadia's time had come. Though the descendants of the Breton peasants, who
dated their settlement from 1604, had since the Peace of Utrecht nominally
belonged to England, yet their sentiments and mode of life had been
unaltered; Port Royal had been little changed by calling it Annapolis, and
the simple, old-fashioned Catholics loved their homes with all the
tenacity of six unbroken generations. Their feet were familiar in the
paths of a hundred and fifty quiet and industrious years; their houses
nestled in their lowly places like natural features of the landscape;
their fields and herds and the graves of their forefathers sweetened and
consecrated the land. They were a chaste, industrious, homely, pious, but
not an intellectual people; and to such the instinct of home is far
stronger than in more highly cultivated races. They had prospered in their
modest degree, and multiplied; so that now they numbered sixteen thousand
men, women and children. During the past few years, however, they had been
subjected to the unrestrained brutality of English administration in its
worst form; they had no redress at law, their property could be taken from
them without payment or recourse; if they did not keep their tyrant's
fires burning, "the soldiers shall absolutely take their houses for fuel."
Estate-titles, records, all that could identify and guarantee their
ownership in the means and conditions of livelihood, were taken; even
their boats and their antiquated firearms were sequestrated. And orders
were actually given to the soldiers to punish any misbehavior summarily
upon the first Acadian who came to hand, whether or not he were guilty of,
or aware of, the offense, and with absolutely no concern for the formality
of arrest or trial. In all the annals of Spanish brutality, there is
nothing more disgraceful to humanity than the systematic and enjoined
treatment of these innocent Bretons by the English, even before the
consummating outrage which made the whole civilized world stare in
indignant amazement.

It is a matter for keen regret that men born on our soil should have been
even involuntarily associated with this episode. The design was kept a
secret from all until the last moment; but one could wish that some
American had then committed an act of insubordination, though at the cost
of his life, by way of indicating the detestation which all civilized and
humane minds must feel for such an act. The colonists knew the value of
liberty; they had made sacrifices for it; they had felt the shadow of
oppression; and they might see, in the treatment of the Acadians, what
would have been their fate had they yielded to the despotic instincts of
England. The best and the worst that can be said of them is that they
obeyed orders, and looked on while the iniquity was being perpetrated.

The force of provincials and regulars landed without molestation, and
captured the feeble forts with the loss of but twenty killed. The Acadians
agreed to take the oath of fidelity, but stipulated not to be forced to
bear arms against their own countrymen. General Charles Lawrence, the
lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia, replied to their plea that they be
allowed to have their boats and guns, that it was "highly arrogant,
insidious and insulting"; and Halifax, another of the companions in
infamy, added that they wanted their boats for "carrying provisions to the
enemy"--there being no enemy nearer than Quebec. As for the guns, "All
Roman Catholics are restrained from having arms, and are subject to
penalties if arms are found in their houses."--"Not the want of arms, but
our consciences, would engage us not to revolt," pleaded the unhappy men.
--"What excuse can you make," bellows Halifax, "for treating this
government with such indignity as to expound to them the nature of
fidelity?" The Acadians agreed to take the oath unconditionally: "By
British statute," they were thereupon informed, "having once refused, you
cannot after take the oath, but are popish recusants." Chief-justice
Belcher, a third of these British moguls, declared they obstructed the
progress of the settlement, and that all of them should be deported from
the province. Proclamation was then made, ordering them to assemble at
their respective posts; and in the morning they obeyed, leaving their
homes, to which, though they knew it not, they were never to return. "Your
lands and tenements, cattle of all kinds, and livestock of all sorts, are
forfeited to the crown," they were told, "and you yourselves are to be
removed from this province." They were kept prisoners, without food, till
the ships should be ready. Not only were they torn from their homes, but
families were separated, sons from their mothers, husbands from their
wives, daughters from their parents, and, as Longfellow has pictured to
us, lovers from one another. Those who tried to escape were hunted by the
soldiers like wild beasts, and "if they can find a pretext to kill them,
they will," said a British officer. They were scattered, helpless,
friendless and destitute, all up and down the Atlantic coast, and their
villages were laid waste. Lord Loudoun, British commander-in-chief in
America, on receiving a petition from some of them written in French, was
so enraged not only at their petitioning, but that they should presume to
do so in their own language, that he had five of their leading men
arrested, consigned to England, and sent as common seamen on English
men-of-war. No detail was wanting, from first to last, to make the crime
of the Acadian deportation perfect; and only an Irishman, Edmund Burke,
lifted his voice to say that the deed was inhuman, and done "upon
pretenses that, in the eye of an honest man, are not worth a farthing."
But Burke was not in Parliament until eleven years after the Acadians were

The incident, from an external point of view, does not belong to the
history of the United States. Yet is it pertinent thereto, as showing of
what enormities the English of that age were capable. Their entire conduct
during this French war was dishonorable, and often atrocious. Forgetting
the facts of history, we often smile at the grumblings of the Continental
nations anent "Perfidious Albion" and "British gold." But the acts
committed by the English government during these years fully justify every
charge of corruption, treachery and political profligacy that has ever
been brought against them. It was a strange age, in which a great and
noble people were mysteriously hurried into sins, follies and disgraces
seemingly foreign to their character. It was because the people had
surrendered their government into alien and shameless hands. They deserved
their punishment; for it is nothing less than a crime, having known
liberty, either to deny it to others, or for the sake of earthly advantage
to consent to any compromise of it in ourselves.



The gathering of soldiers from France, England and the colonies, and the
rousing of the Indians on one side and the other, made the great forest
which stretched across northern New York and New England populous with
troops and resonant with the sounds of war. Those solemn woodland aisles
and quiet glades were desecrated by marchings and campings, and in the
ravines and recesses lay the corpses of men in uniforms, the grim remains
of peasants who had been born three thousand miles away. Passing through
the depths of the wilderness, apparently remote from all human habitation,
suddenly one would come upon a fortress, frowning with heavy guns, and
surrounded by the log-built barracks of the soldiery, who, in the
intervals of siege and combat, passed their days impatiently, thinking of
the distant homes from which they came, and muttering their discontent at
inaction and uncertainty. The region round the junction of Lake George and
Lake Champlain, where stood the strongholds of Fort Edward and Fort
William Henry, of Crown Point and Ticonderoga, was the scene of many
desperate conflicts, between 1758 and 1780; and the wolves of the forest,
and the bears of the Vermont mountains, were disturbed in their lairs by
the tumults and the restless evolutions, and wandered eastward until they
came among the startled hamlets and frontier farms of the settlements. The
savagery of man, surpassing theirs, drove them to seek shelter amid the
abodes of man himself; but there was no safety for them there, as many a
bloody head and paws, trophies of rustic marksmanship, attested. The
dominion of the wilderness was approaching its end in America. Everywhere
you might hear the roll of the drum, and there was no family but had its
soldier, and few that did not have their dead. There were a score of
thousand British troops in the northern provinces, and every week brought
rumors and alarms, and portents of victory or defeat. The haggard
post-rider came galloping in with news from north and west, which the
throng of anxious village folks gather to hear. There have been
skirmishes, successes, retreats, surprises, massacres, retaliations; there
is news from Niagara and Oswego on far away Lake Ontario, and echoes of
the guns at Ticonderoga. There are proclamations for enlistment, and
requisitions for ammunition; and the tailors in the towns are busy cutting
out scarlet uniforms and decorating them with gold braid. Markets for the
supply of troops are established in the woods, far from any settled
habitations, where shrewd farmers bargain with the hungry soldiery for
carcasses of pigs and beeves, and for disheveled hens from distant
farmyards; the butcher's shop is kept under the spreading brandies of the
trees, from whose low limbs dangle the tempting wares, and a stump serves
as a chopping-block. Under the shrubbery, where the sun cannot penetrate,
are stored home-made firkins full of yellow butter, and great cheeses, and
heaps of substantial home-baked bread. Kegs of hard cider and spruce beer
and perhaps more potent brews are abroach, and behind the haggling and
jesting and bustle you may catch the sound of muskets or the whoop of the
Indians from afar. Meanwhile, in the settlements, all manner of industries
were stimulated, and a great number of women throughout the country, left
to take care of their children and themselves by the absence of their
men-folk, went into business of all kinds, and drove a thriving trade.
Lotteries were also popular, the promoters retaining a good share of the
profits after the nominal object of the transaction had been attained. It
was well that the war operations were carried on far from the populous
regions, so that only the fighters themselves were involved in the
immediate consequences. The battle was for the homes of posterity, where
as yet the woodman's ax had never been heard, except to provide defenses
against death, instead of habitations for life. Those who could not go to
the war sat round the broad country hearthstones at night, with the fire
of logs leaping up the great cavern of the chimney, telling stories of
past exploits, speculating as to the present, praying perhaps for the
future, and pausing now and then to listen to strange noises abroad in the
night-ridden sky--strains of ghostly music playing a march or a charge, or
the thunder of phantom guns.

Governor Shirley, who while in France in 1749 had married a French wife
and brought her home with him, and who for a while had the chief command
of the king's forces in America, was in disfavor with the people, who
suspected his wife of sending treasonable news to the enemy; and having
also proved inefficient as a soldier, he was recalled to England in 1756,
and vanished thenceforth as a factor in American affairs, in which his
influence had always been selfish and illiberal, if not worse. Thomas
Pownall succeeded him and held his position for three years, when he was
transferred to South Carolina. He was a man of fashion, and of little
weight. From the shuffle of men who appeared and disappeared during the
early years of the war, a few stand out in permanent distinctness.
Washington's reputation steadily increased; Amherst, Wolfe and Lyman
achieved distinction on the English side, and Montcalm and Dieskau on the
French. In 1757, General Loudoun, one of the agents of the despoiling of
Acadia, made a professed attempt to capture Louisburg, which had been
given back to the French at the last peace; but after wasting a summer in
vain drilling of his forces, retired in dismay on learning that the French
fleet outnumbered his own by one vessel. The place was bombarded and taken
the next year by Amherst and Wolfe, but Halifax was the English
headquarters in that region. Before this however, in the summer of 1755,
immediately after the defeat of Braddock, an army of New Englanders
assembled at Albany to capture Crown Point, where the French had called
together every able-bodied man available. William Johnson was commander,
and associated with him was Phinehas Lyman, a natural-born soldier. They
marched to the southern shore of what the French called the Lake of the
Holy Sacrament, but which Johnson thought would better be named Lake
George. The army, with its Indian allies, numbered about thirty-four
hundred; a camping ground was cleared, but no intrenchments were thrown
up; no enemy seemed to be within reach. Dieskau, informed of the advance,
turned from his design against Oswego in the west, and marched for Fort
Edward, in the rear of Johnson's troops. By a mistake of the guide he
found himself approaching the open camp. Johnson sent a Massachusetts man,
Ephraim Williams, with a thousand troops, to save Fort Edward. They nearly
fell into an ambush; as it was, their party was overpowered by the enemy;

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