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The Winning of the West, Volume One by Theodore Roosevelt

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Produced by Mark Hamann, Yvonne Dailey, Tom Allen and PG Distributed









This book is dedicated, with his permission

To whom Americans who feel a pride in the pioneer history
of their country are so greatly indebted

"O strange New World that yit wast never young,
Whose youth from thee by gripin' need was wrung,
Brown foundlin' o' the woods, whose baby-bed
Was prowled roun' by the Injun's cracklin' tread,
And who grew'st strong thru shifts an' wants an' pains,
Nursed by stern men with empires in their brains,
Who saw in vision their young Ishmel strain
With each hard hand a vassal ocean's mane;
Thou skilled by Freedom and by gret events
To pitch new states ez Old World men pitch tents.
Thou taught by fate to know Jehovah's plan,
Thet man's devices can't unmake a man.

* * * * *

Oh, my friends, thank your God, if you have one, that he
'Twixt the Old World and you set the gulf of a sea,
Be strong-backed, brown-handed, upright as your pines,
By the scale of a hemisphere shape your designs."


Much of the material on which this work is based is to be found in the
archives of the American Government, which date back to 1774, when the
first Continental Congress assembled. The earliest sets have been
published complete up to 1777, under the title of "American Archives,"
and will be hereafter designated by this name. These early volumes
contain an immense amount of material, because in them are to be found
memoranda of private individuals and many of the public papers of the
various colonial and State governments, as well as those of the
Confederation. The documents from 1789 on--no longer containing any
papers of the separate States--have also been gathered and printed
under the heading of "American State Papers"; by which term they will
be hereafter referred to.

The mass of public papers coming in between these two series, and
covering the period extending from 1776 to 1789, have never been
published, and in great part have either never been examined or else
have been examined in the most cursory manner. The original documents
are all in the Department of State at Washington, and for convenience
will be referred to as "State Department MSS." They are bound in two
or three hundred large volumes; exactly how many I cannot say,
because, though they are numbered, yet several of the numbers
themselves contain from two or three to ten or fifteen volumes apiece.
The volumes to which reference will most often be made are the

* * * * *

No. 15. Letters of Huntington.

No. 16. Letters of the Presidents of Congress.

No. 18. Letter-Book B.

No. 20. Vol. 1. Reports of Committees on State Papers.

No. 27. Reports of Committees on the War Office. 1776 to 1778.

No. 30. Reports of Committees.

No. 32. Reports of Committees of the States and of the Week.

No. 41. Vol. 3. Memorials E. F. G. 1776-1788.

No. 41. Vol. 5. Memorials K. L. 1777-1789.

No. 50. Letters and Papers of Oliver Pollock. 1777-1792.

No. 51. Vol. 2 Intercepted Letters. 1779-1782.

No. 56. Indian Affairs.

No. 71. Vol. 1. Virginia State Papers.

No. 73. Georgia State Papers.

No. 81. Vol. 2. Reports of Secretary John Jay.

No. 120. Vol. 2. American Letters.

No. 124. Vol. 3. Reports of Jay.

No. 125. Negotiation Book.

No. 136. Vol. 1. Reports of Board of Treasury.

No. 136. Vol. 2. Reports of Board of Treasury.

No. 147. Vol. 2. Reports of Board of War.

No. 147. Vol. 5. Reports of Board of War.

No. 147. Vol. 6. Reports of Board of War.

No. 148. Vol. 1. Letters from Board of War.

No. 149. Vol. 1. Letters and Reports from B. Lincoln, Secretary at

No. 149. Vol. 2. Letters and Reports from B. Lincoln, Secretary at

No. 149. Vol. 3. Letters and Reports from B. Lincoln, Secretary at

No. 150. Vol. 1. Letters of H. Knox, Secretary at War.

No. 150. Vol. 2. Letters of H. Knox, Secretary at War.

No. 150. Vol. 3. Letters of H. Knox, Secretary at War.

No. 152. Vol. 11. Letters of General Washington.

No. 163. Letters of Generals Clinton, Nixon, Nicola, Morgan, Harmar,

No. 169. Vol. 9. Washington's Letters.

No. 180. Reports of Secretary of Congress.

Besides these numbered volumes, the State Department contains others,
such as Washington's letter-book, marked War Department 1792, '3, '4,
'5. There are also a series of numbered volumes of "Letters to
Washington," Nos. 33 and 49 containing reports from Geo. Rogers Clark.
The Jefferson papers, which are likewise preserved here, are bound in
several series, each containing a number of volumes. The Madison and
Monroe papers, also kept here, are not yet bound; I quote them as the
Madison MSS. and the Monroe MSS.

My thanks are due to Mr. W. C. Hamilton, Asst. Librarian, for giving
me every facility to examine the material.

At Nashville, Tennessee, I had access to a mass of original matter in
the shape of files of old newspapers, of unpublished letters, diaries,
reports, and other manuscripts. I was given every opportunity to
examine these at my leisure, and indeed to take such as were most
valuable to my own home. For this my thanks are especially due to
Judge John M. Lea, to whom, as well as to my many other friends in
Nashville, I shall always feel under a debt on account of the
unfailing courtesy with which I was treated. I must express my
particular acknowledgments to Mr. Lemuel R. Campbell. The Nashville
manuscripts, etc. of which I have made most use are the following:

* * * * *

The Robertson MSS., comprising two large volumes, entitled the
"Correspondence, etc., of Gen'l James Robertson," from 1781 to 1814.
They belong to the library of Nashville University; I had some
difficulty in finding the second volume but finally succeeded.

The Campbell MSS., consisting of letters and memoranda to and from
different members of the Campbell family who were prominent in the
Revolution; dealing for the most part with Lord Dunmore's war, the
Cherokee wars, the battle of King's Mountain, land speculations, etc.
They are in the possession of Mr. Lemuel R. Campbell, who most kindly
had copies of all the important ones sent me, at great personal

Some of the Sevier and Jackson papers, the original MS. diaries of
Donelson on the famous voyage down the Tennessee and up the
Cumberland, and of Benj. Hawkins while surveying the Tennessee
boundary, memoranda of Thos. Washington, Overton and Dunham, the
earliest files of the Knoxville _Gazette_, from 1791 to 1795,
etc. These are all in the library of the Tennessee Historical Society.

For original matter connected with Kentucky, I am greatly indebted to
Col. Reuben T. Durrett, of Louisville, the founder of the "Filson
Club," which has done such admirable historical work of late years. He
allowed me to work at my leisure in his library, the most complete in
the world on all subjects connected with Kentucky history. Among other
matter, he possesses the Shelby MSS., containing a number of letters
to and from, and a dictated autobiography of, Isaac Shelby; MS.
journals of Rev. James Smith, during two tours in the western country
in 1785 and '95; early files of the "Kentucke _Gazette_"; books
owned by the early settlers; papers of Boon, and George Rogers Clark;
MS. notes on Kentucky by George Bradford, who settled there in 1779;
MS. copy of the record book of Col. John Todd, the first governor of
the Illinois country after Clark's conquest; the McAfee MSS.,
consisting of an Account of the First Settlement of Salt River, the
Autobiography of Robert McAfee, and a Brief Memorandum of the Civil
and Natural History of Kentucky; MS. autobiography of Rev. William
Hickman, who visited Kentucky in 1776, etc., etc.

I am also under great obligations to Col. John Mason Brown of
Louisville, another member of the Filson Club, for assistance rendered
me; particularly for having sent me six bound volumes of MSS.,
containing the correspondence of the Spanish Minister Gardoqui, copied
from the Spanish archives.

At Lexington I had access to the Breckenridge MSS., through the
kindness of Mr. Ethelbert D. Warfield; and to the Clay MSS. through
the kindness of Miss Lucretia Hart Clay. I am particularly indebted to
Miss Clay for her courtesy in sending me many of the most valuable old
Hart and Benton letters, depositions, accounts, and the like.

The Blount MSS. were sent to me from California by the Hon. W. D.
Stephens of Los Angeles, although I was not personally known to him;
an instance of courtesy and generosity, in return for which I could do
nothing save express my sincere appreciation and gratitude, which I
take this opportunity of publicly repeating.

The Gates MSS., from which I drew some important facts not hitherto
known concerning the King's Mountain campaign, are in the library of
the New York Historical Society.

The Virginia State Papers have recently been published, and are now
accessible to all.

Among the most valuable of the hitherto untouched manuscripts which I
have obtained are the Haldimand papers, preserved in the Canadian
archives at Ottawa. They give, for the first time, the British and
Indian side of all the northwestern fighting; including Clark's
campaigns, the siege of Boonsborough, the battle of the Blue Licks,
Crawford's defeat, etc. The Canadian archivist. Mr. Douglass Brymner,
furnished me copies of all I needed with a prompt courtesy for which I
am more indebted than I can well express.

I have been obliged to rely mainly on these collections of early
documents as my authorities, especially for that portion of western
history prior to 1783. Excluding the valuable, but very brief, and
often very inaccurate, sketch which Filson wrote down as coming from
Boon, there are no printed histories of Kentucky earlier than
Marshall's, in 1812; while the first Tennessee history was Haywood's,
in 1822. Both Marshall and Haywood did excellent work; the former was
an able writer, the latter was a student, and (like the Kentucky
historian Mann Butler) a sound political thinker, devoted to the
Union, and prompt to stand up for the right. But both of them, in
dealing with the early history of the country beyond the Alleghanies,
wrote about matters that had happened from thirty to fifty years
before, and were obliged to base most of their statements on tradition
or on what the pioneers remembered in their old age. The later
historians, for the most part, merely follow these two. In
consequence, the mass of original material, in the shape of official
reports and contemporary letters, contained in the Haldimand MSS., the
Campbell MSS., the McAfee MSS., the Gardoqui MSS., the State
Department MSS., the Virginia State Papers, etc., not only cast a
flood of new light upon this early history, but necessitate its being
entirely re-written. For instance, they give an absolutely new aspect
to, and in many cases completely reverse, the current accounts of all
the Indian fighting, both against the Cherokees and the Northwestern
tribes; they give for the first time a clear view of frontier
diplomacy, of the intrigues with the Spaniards, and even of the mode
of life in the backwoods, and of the workings of the civil government.
It may be mentioned that the various proper names are spelt in so many
different ways that it is difficult to know which to choose. Even
Clark is sometimes spelt Clarke, while Boon was apparently indifferent
as to whether his name should or should not contain the final silent
_e_. As for the original Indian titles, it is often quite
impossible to give them even approximately; the early writers often
wrote the same Indian words in such different ways that they bear no
resemblance whatever to one another.

In conclusion I would say that it has been to me emphatically a labor
of love to write of the great deeds of the border people. I am not
blind to their manifold shortcomings, nor yet am I ignorant of their
many strong and good qualities. For a number of years I spent most of
my time on the frontier, and lived and worked like any other
frontiersman. The wild country in which we dwelt and across which we
wandered was in the far west; and there were of course many features
in which the life of a cattleman on the Great Plains and among the
Rockies differed from that led by a backwoodsman in the Alleghany
forests a century before. Yet the points of resemblance were far more
numerous and striking. We guarded our herds of branded cattle and
shaggy horses, hunted bear, bison, elk, and deer, established civil
government, and put down evil-doers, white and red, on the banks of
the Little Missouri and among the wooded, precipitous foot-hills of
the Bighorn, exactly as did the pioneers who a hundred years
previously built their log-cabins beside the Kentucky or in the
valleys of the Great Smokies. The men who have shared in the fast
vanishing frontier life of the present feel a peculiar sympathy with
the already long-vanished frontier life of the past.

SAGAMORE HILL, _May_, 1889


In the year 1898 the United States finished the work begun over a
century before by the backwoodsman, and drove the Spaniard outright
from the western world. During the march of our people from the crests
of the Alleghanies to the Pacific, the Spaniard was for a long period
our chief white opponent; and after an interval his place among our
antagonists was taken by his Spanish-American heir. Although during
the Revolution the Spaniard at one time became America's friend in the
sense that he was England's foe, he almost from the outset hated and
dreaded his new ally more than his old enemy. In the peace
negotiations at the close of the contest he was jealously eager to
restrict our boundaries to the line of the Alleghanies; while even
during the concluding years of the war the Spanish soldiers on the
upper Mississippi were regarded by the Americans in Illinois as a
menace no less serious than the British troops at Detroit.

In the opening years of our national life the Western backwoodsman
found the Spanish ownership of the mouth of the Mississippi even more
hurtful and irksome than the retention by the British king of the
posts on the Great Lakes. After years of tedious public negotiations,
under and through which ran a dark woof of private intrigue, the
sinewy western hands so loosened the Spanish grip that in despair
Spain surrendered to France the mouth of the river and the vast
territories stretching thence into the dim Northwest. She hoped
thereby to establish a strong barrier between her remaining provinces
and her most dreaded foe. But France in her turn grew to understand
that America's position as regards Louisiana, thanks to the steady
westward movement of the backwoodsman, was such as to render it on the
one hand certain that the retention of the province by France would
mean an armed clash with the United States, and on the other hand no
less certain that in the long run such a conflict would result to
France's disadvantage. Louisiana thus passed from the hands of Spain,
after a brief interval, into those of the young Republic. There
remained to Spain, Mexico and Florida; and forthwith the pressure of
the stark forest riflemen began to be felt on the outskirts of these
two provinces. Florida was the first to fall. After a portion of it
had been forcibly annexed, after Andrew Jackson had marched at will
through part of the remainder, and after the increasing difficulty of
repressing the American filibustering efforts had shown the imminence
of some serious catastrophe, Spain ceded the peninsula to the United
States. Texas, New Mexico, and California did not fall into American
hands until they had passed from the Spaniard to his half-Indian sons.

Many decades went by after Spain had lost her foothold on the American
continent, and she still held her West Indian empire. She misgoverned
the islands as she had misgoverned the continent; and in the islands,
as once upon the continent, her own children became her deadliest
foes. But generation succeeded generation, and the prophecies of those
far-seeing statesmen who foretold that she would lose to the northern
Republic her West Indian possessions remained unfulfilled. At last, at
the close of one of the bloodiest and most brutal wars that even Spain
ever waged with her own colonists, the United States intervened, and
in a brief summer campaign destroyed the last vestiges of the mediaeval
Spanish domain in the tropic seas alike of the West and the remote

We of this generation were but carrying to completion the work of our
fathers and of our fathers' fathers. It is moreover a matter for just
pride that while there was no falling off in the vigor and prowess
shown by our fighting men, there was a marked change for the better in
the spirit with which the deed was done. The backwoodsmen had pushed
the Spaniards from the Mississippi, had set up a slave-holding
republic in Texas, and had conquered the Californian gold-fields, in
the sheer masterful exercise of might. It is true that they won great
triumphs for civilization no less than for their own people; yet they
won them unwittingly, for they were merely doing as countless other
strong young races had done in the long contest carried on for so many
thousands of years between the fit and the unfit. But in 1898 the
United States, while having gained in strength, showed that there had
likewise been gain in justice, in mercy, in sense of responsibility.
Our conquest of the Southwest has been justified by the result. The
Latin peoples in the lands we won and settled have prospered like our
own stock. The sons and grandsons of those who had been our foes in
Louisiana and New Mexico came eagerly forward to serve in the army
that was to invade Cuba. Our people as a whole went into the war,
primarily, it is true, to drive out the Spaniard once for all from
America; but with the fixed determination to replace his rule by a
government of justice and orderly liberty.

To use the political terminology of the present day, the whole western
movement of our people was simply the most vital part of that great
movement of expansion which has been the central and all-important
feature of our history--a feature far more important than any other
since we became a nation, save only the preservation of the Union
itself. It was expansion which made us a great power; and at every
stage it has been bitterly antagonized, not only by the short-sighted
and the timid, but even by many who were neither one nor the other.
There were many men who opposed the movement west of the Alleghanies
and the peopling of the lands which now form Kentucky, Tennessee, and
the great States lying between the Ohio and the Lakes. Excellent
persons then foretold ruin to the country from bringing into it a
disorderly population of backwoodsmen, with the same solemnity that
has in our own day marked the prophecies of those who have seen
similar ruin in the intaking of Hawaii and Porto Rico. The annexation
of Louisiana, including the entire territory between the northern
Mississippi and the Pacific Ocean, aroused such frantic opposition in
the old-settled regions of the country, and especially in the
Northeast, as to call forth threats of disunion, the language used by
the opponents of our expansion into the Far West being as violent as
that sometimes used in denouncing our acquisition of the Philippines.
The taking of Texas and of California was complicated by the slave
question, but much of the opposition to both was simply the general
opposition to expansion--that is, to national growth and national
greatness. In our long-settled communities there have always been
people who opposed every war which marked the advance of American
civilization at the cost of savagery. The opposition was fundamentally
the same, whether these wars were campaigns in the old West against
the Shawnees and the Miamis, in the new West against the Sioux and the
Apaches, or in Luzon against the Tagals. In each case, in the end, the
believers in the historic American policy of expansion have triumphed.
Hitherto America has gone steadily forward along the path of
greatness, and has remained true to the policy of her early leaders
who felt within them the lift towards mighty things. Like every really
strong people, ours is stirred by the generous ardor for daring strife
and mighty deeds, and now with eyes undimmed looks far into the misty

At bottom the question of expansion in 1898 was but a variant of the
problem we had to solve at every stage of the great western movement.
Whether the prize of the moment was Louisiana or Florida, Oregon or
Alaska, mattered little. The same forces, the same types of men, stood
for and against the cause of national growth, of national greatness,
at the end of the century as at the beginning.

My non-literary work has been so engrossing during the years that have
elapsed since my fourth volume was published, that I have been unable
to go on with "The Winning of the West"; but my design is to continue
the narrative as soon as I can get leisure, carrying it through the
stages which marked the taking of Florida and Oregon, the upbuilding
of the republic of Texas, and the acquisition of New Mexico and
California as the result of the Mexican war.

Theodore Roosevelt

_January_ 1, 1900.
















[Illustration: Map. The West during the Revolution. Showing Hamilton's
route from Detroit to Vincennes; Clark's route from Redstone to the
Illinois, and thence to Vincennes; Boon's trail, on the Wilderness
Road to Kentucky; Robertson's trail to the settlement he founded on
the Cumberland; the water route from the Watauga to Nashboro, that
taken by the _Adventure_; the march of the backwoodsmen from the
Sycamore Shoals to King's Mountain. The flags denote the battles of
the Great Kanawha, the Blue Licks, the Island Flats of the Holston,
and King's Mountain; and the assaults on Boonsboro and Vincennes.
Based on a map by G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London.]




During the past three centuries the spread of the English-speaking
peoples over the world's waste spaces has been not only the most
striking feature in the world's history, but also the event of all
others most far-reaching in its effects and its importance.

The tongue which Bacon feared to use in his writings, lest they should
remain forever unknown to all but the inhabitants of a relatively
unimportant insular kingdom, is now the speech of two continents. The
Common Law which Coke jealously upheld in the southern half of a
single European island, is now the law of the land throughout the vast
regions of Australasia, and of America north of the Rio Grande. The
names of the plays that Shakespeare wrote are household words in the
mouths of mighty nations, whose wide domains were to him more unreal
than the realm of Prester John. Over half the descendants of their
fellow countrymen of that day now dwell in lands which, when these
three Englishmen were born, held not a single white inhabitant; the
race which, when they were in their prime, was hemmed in between the
North and the Irish seas, to-day holds sway over worlds, whose endless
coasts are washed by the waves of the three great oceans.

There have been many other races that at one time or another had their
great periods of race expansion--as distinguished from mere
conquest,--but there has never been another whose expansion has been
either so broad or so rapid.

At one time, many centuries ago, it seemed as if the Germanic peoples,
like their Celtic foes and neighbors, would be absorbed into the
all-conquering Roman power, and, merging their identity in that of the
victors, would accept their law, their speech, and their habits of
thought. But this danger vanished forever on the day of the slaughter
by the Teutoburger Wald, when the legions of Varus were broken by the
rush of Hermann's wild warriors.

Two or three hundred years later the Germans, no longer on the
defensive, themselves went forth from their marshy forests conquering
and to conquer. For century after century they swarmed out of the dark
woodland east of the Rhine, and north of the Danube; and as their
force spent itself, the movement was taken up by their brethren who
dwelt along the coasts of the Baltic and the North Atlantic. From the
Volga to the Pillars of Hercules, from Sicily to Britain, every land
in turn bowed to the warlike prowess of the stalwart sons of Odin.
Rome and Novgorod, the imperial city of Italy as well as the squalid
capital of Muscovy, acknowledged the sway of kings of Teutonic or
Scandinavian blood.

In most cases, however, the victorious invaders merely intruded
themselves among the original and far more numerous owners of the
land, ruled over them, and were absorbed by them. This happened to
both Teuton and Scandinavian; to the descendants of Alaric, as well as
to the children of Rurik. The Dane in Ireland became a Celt; the Goth
of the Iberian peninsula became a Spaniard; Frank and Norwegian alike
were merged into the mass of Romance-speaking Gauls, who themselves
finally grew to be called by the names of their masters. Thus it came
about that though the German tribes conquered Europe they did not
extend the limits of Germany nor the sway of the German race. On the
contrary, they strengthened the hands of the rivals of the people from
whom they sprang. They gave rulers--kaisers, kings, barons, and
knights--to all the lands they overran; here and there they imposed
their own names on kingdoms and principalities--as in France,
Normandy, Burgundy, and Lombardy; they grafted the feudal system on
the Roman jurisprudence, and interpolated a few Teutonic words in the
Latin dialects of the peoples they had conquered; but, hopelessly
outnumbered, they were soon lost in the mass of their subjects, and
adopted from them their laws, their culture, and their language. As a
result, the mixed races of the south--the Latin nations as they are
sometimes called--strengthened by the infusion of northern blood,
sprang anew into vigorous life, and became for the time being the
leaders of the European world.

There was but one land whereof the winning made a lasting addition to
Germanic soil; but this land was destined to be of more importance in
the future of the Germanic peoples than all their continental
possessions, original and acquired, put together. The day when the
keels of the low-Dutch sea-thieves first grated on the British coast
was big with the doom of many nations. There sprang up in conquered
southern Britain, when its name had been significantly changed to
England, that branch of the Germanic stock which was in the end to
grasp almost literally world-wide power, and by its overshadowing
growth to dwarf into comparative insignificance all its kindred folk.
At the time, in the general wreck of the civilized world, the making
of England attracted but little attention. Men's eyes were riveted on
the empires conquered by the hosts of Alaric, Theodoric, and Clovis,
not on the swarm of little kingdoms and earldoms founded by the
nameless chiefs who led each his band of hard-rowing, hard-fighting
henchmen across the stormy waters of the German Ocean. Yet the rule
and the race of Goth, Frank, and Burgund have vanished from off the
earth; while the sons of the unknown Saxon, Anglian, and Friesic
warriors now hold in their hands the fate of the coming years.

After the great Teutonic wanderings were over, there came a long lull,
until, with the discovery of America, a new period of even vaster race
expansion began. During this lull the nations of Europe took on their
present shapes. Indeed, the so-called Latin nations--the French and
Spaniards, for instance--may be said to have been born after the first
set of migrations ceased. Their national history, as such, does not
really begin until about that time, whereas that of the Germanic
peoples stretches back unbroken to the days when we first hear of
their existence. It would be hard to say which one of half a dozen
races that existed in Europe during the early centuries of the present
era should be considered as especially the ancestor of the modern
Frenchman or Spaniard. When the Romans conquered Gaul and Iberia they
did not in any place drive out the ancient owners of the soil; they
simply Romanized them, and left them as the base of the population. By
the Frankish and Visigothic invasions another strain of blood was
added, to be speedily absorbed; while the invaders took the language
of the conquered people, and established themselves as the ruling
class. Thus the modern nations who sprang from this mixture derive
portions of their governmental system and general policy from one
race, most of their blood from another, and their language, law, and
culture from a third.

The English race, on the contrary, has a perfectly continuous history.
When Alfred reigned, the English already had a distinct national
being; when Charlemagne reigned, the French, as we use the term
to-day, had no national being whatever. The Germans of the mainland
merely overran the countries that lay in their path; but the
sea-rovers who won England to a great extent actually displaced the
native Britons. The former were absorbed by the subject-races; the
latter, on the contrary, slew or drove off or assimilated the original
inhabitants. Unlike all the other Germanic swarms, the English took
neither creed nor custom, neither law nor speech, from their beaten
foes. At the time when the dynasty of the Capets had become firmly
established at Paris, France was merely part of a country where
Latinized Gauls and Basques were ruled by Latinized Franks, Goths,
Burgunds, and Normans; but the people across the Channel then showed
little trace of Celtic or Romance influence. It would be hard to say
whether Vercingetorix or Caesar, Clovis or Syagrius, has the better
right to stand as the prototype of a modern French general. There is
no such doubt in the other case. The average Englishman, American, or
Australian of to-day who wishes to recall the feats of power with
which his race should be credited in the shadowy dawn of its history,
may go back to the half-mythical glories of Hengist and Horsa, perhaps
to the deeds of Civilis the Batavian, or to those of the hero of the
Teutoburger fight, but certainly to the wars neither of the Silurian
chief Caractacus nor of his conqueror, the after-time Emperor

Nevertheless, when, in the sixteenth century, the European peoples
began to extend their dominions beyond Europe, England had grown to
differ profoundly from the Germanic countries of the mainland. A very
large Celtic element had been introduced into the English blood, and,
in addition, there had been a considerable Scandinavian admixture.
More important still were the radical changes brought by the Norman
conquest; chief among them the transformation of the old English
tongue into the magnificent language which is now the common
inheritance of so many widespread peoples. England's insular position,
moreover, permitted it to work out its own fate comparatively
unhampered by the presence of outside powers; so that it developed a
type of nationality totally distinct from the types of the European

All this is not foreign to American history. The vast movement by
which this continent was conquered and peopled cannot be rightly
understood if considered solely by itself. It was the crowning and
greatest achievement of a series of mighty movements, and it must be
taken in connection with them. Its true significance will be lost
unless we grasp, however roughly, the past race-history of the nations
who took part therein.

When, with the voyages of Columbus and his successors, the great
period of extra-European colonization began, various nations strove to
share in the work. Most of them had to plant their colonies in lands
across the sea; Russia alone was by her geographical position enabled
to extend her frontiers by land, and in consequence her comparatively
recent colonization of Siberia bears some resemblance to our own work
in the western United States. The other countries of Europe were
forced to find their outlets for conquest and emigration beyond the
ocean, and, until the colonists had taken firm root in their new homes
the mastery of the seas thus became a matter of vital consequence.

Among the lands beyond the ocean America was the first reached and the
most important. It was conquered by different European races, and
shoals of European settlers were thrust forth upon its shores. These
sometimes displaced and sometimes merely overcame and lived among the
natives. They also, to their own lasting harm, committed a crime whose
shortsighted folly was worse than its guilt, for they brought hordes
of African slaves, whose descendants now form immense populations in
certain portions of the land. Throughout the continent we therefore
find the white, red, and black races in every stage of purity and
intermixture. One result of this great turmoil of conquest and
immigration has been that, in certain parts of America, the lines of
cleavage of race are so far from coinciding with the lines of cleavage
of speech that they run at right angles to them--as in the four
communities of Ontario, Quebec, Havti, and Jamaica.

Each intruding European power, in winning for itself new realms beyond
the seas, had to wage a twofold war, overcoming the original
inhabitants with one hand, and with the other warding off the assaults
of the kindred nations that were bent on the same schemes. Generally
the contests of the latter kind were much the most important. The
victories by which the struggles between the European conquerors
themselves were ended deserve lasting commemoration. Yet, sometimes,
even the most important of them, sweeping though they were, were in
parts less sweeping than they seemed. It would be impossible to
overestimate the far-reaching effects of the overthrow of the French
power in America; but Lower Canada, where the fatal blow was given,
itself suffered nothing but a political conquest, which did not
interfere in the least with the growth of a French state along both
sides of the lower St. Lawrence. In a somewhat similar way Dutch
communities have held their own, and indeed have sprung up in South

All the European nations touching on the Atlantic seaboard took part
in the new work, with very varying success; Germany alone, then rent
by many feuds, having no share therein. Portugal founded a single
state, Brazil. The Scandinavian nations did little: their chief colony
fell under the control of the Dutch. The English and the Spaniards
were the two nations to whom the bulk of the new lands fell: the
former getting much the greater portion. The conquests of the
Spaniards took place in the sixteenth century. The West Indies and
Mexico, Peru and the limitless grass plains of what is now the
Argentine Confederation,--all these and the lands lying between them
had been conquered and colonized by the Spaniards before there was a
single English settlement in the New World, and while the fleets of
the Catholic king still held for him the lordship of the ocean. Then
the cumbrous Spanish vessels succumbed to the attacks of the swift
war-ships of Holland and England, and the sun of the Spanish
world-dominion set as quickly as it had risen. Spain at once came to a
standstill; it was only here and there that she even extended her rule
over a few neighboring Indian tribes, while she was utterly unable to
take the offensive against the French, Dutch, and English. But it is a
singular thing that these vigorous and powerful new-comers, who had so
quickly put a stop to her further growth, yet wrested from her very
little of what was already hers. They plundered a great many Spanish
cities and captured a great many Spanish galleons, but they made no
great or lasting conquests of Spanish territory. Their mutual
jealousies, and the fear each felt of the others, were among the main
causes of this state of things; and hence it came about that after the
opening of the seventeenth century the wars they waged against one
another were of far more ultimate consequence than the wars they waged
against the former mistress of the western world. England in the end
drove both France and Holland from the field; but it was under the
banner of the American Republic, not under that of the British
Monarchy, that the English-speaking people first won vast stretches of
land from the descendants of the Spanish conquerors.

The three most powerful of Spain's rivals waged many a long war with
one another to decide which should grasp the sceptre that had slipped
from Spanish hands. The fleets of Holland fought with stubborn
obstinacy to wrest from England her naval supremacy; but they failed,
and in the end the greater portion of the Dutch domains fell to their
foes. The French likewise began a course of conquest and colonization
at the same time the English did, and after a couple of centuries of
rivalry, ending in prolonged warfare, they also succumbed. The close
of the most important colonial contest ever waged left the French
without a foot of soil on the North American mainland; while their
victorious foes had not only obtained the lead in the race for
supremacy on that continent, but had also won the command of the
ocean. They thenceforth found themselves free to work their will in
all seagirt lands, unchecked by hostile European influence.

Most fortunately, when England began her career as a colonizing power
in America, Spain had already taken possession of the populous
tropical and subtropical regions, and the northern power was thus
forced to form her settlements in the sparsely peopled temperate zone.

It is of vital importance to remember that the English and Spanish
conquests in America differed from each other very much as did the
original conquests which gave rise to the English and the Spanish
nations. The English had exterminated or assimilated the Celts of
Britain, and they substantially repeated the process with the Indians
of America; although of course in America there was very little,
instead of very much, assimilation. The Germanic strain is dominant in
the blood of the average Englishman, exactly as the English strain is
dominant in the blood of the average American. Twice a portion of the
race has shifted its home, in each case undergoing a marked change,
due both to outside influence and to internal development; but in the
main retaining, especially in the last instance, the general race

It was quite otherwise in the countries conquered by Cortes, Pizarro,
and their successors. Instead of killing or driving off the natives as
the English did, the Spaniards simply sat down in the midst of a much
more numerous aboriginal population. The process by which Central and
South America became Spanish bore very close resemblance to the
process by which the lands of southeastern Europe were turned into
Romance-speaking countries. The bulk of the original inhabitants
remained unchanged in each case. There was little displacement of
population. Roman soldiers and magistrates, Roman merchants and
handicraftsmen were thrust in among the Celtic and Iberian peoples,
exactly as the Spanish military and civil rulers, priests, traders,
land-owners, and mine-owners settled down among the Indians of Peru
and Mexico. By degrees, in each case, the many learnt the language and
adopted the laws, religion, and governmental system of the few,
although keeping certain of their own customs and habits of thought.
Though the ordinary Spaniard of to-day speaks a Romance dialect, he is
mainly of Celto-Iberian blood; and though most Mexicans and Peruvians
speak Spanish, yet the great majority of them trace their descent back
to the subjects of Montezuma and the Incas. Moreover, exactly as in
Europe little ethnic islands of Breton and Basque stock have remained
unaffected by the Romance flood, so in America there are large
communities where the inhabitants keep unchanged the speech and the
customs of their Indian forefathers.

The English-speaking peoples now hold more and better land than any
other American nationality or set of nationalities. They have in their
veins less aboriginal American blood than any of their neighbors. Yet
it is noteworthy that the latter have tacitly allowed them to arrogate
to themselves the title of "Americans," whereby to designate their
distinctive and individual nationality.

So much for the difference between the way in which the English and
the way in which other European nations have conquered and colonized.
But there have been likewise very great differences in the methods and
courses of the English-speaking peoples themselves, at different times
and in different places.

The settlement of the United States and Canada, throughout most of
their extent, bears much resemblance to the later settlement of
Australia and New Zealand. The English conquest of India and even the
English conquest of South Africa come in an entirely different
category. The first was a mere political conquest, like the Dutch
conquest of Java or the extension of the Roman Empire over parts of
Asia. South Africa in some respects stands by itself, because there
the English are confronted by another white race which it is as yet
uncertain whether they can assimilate, and, what is infinitely more
important, because they are there confronted by a very large native
population with which they cannot mingle, and which neither dies out
nor recedes before their advance. It is not likely, but it is at least
within the bounds of possibility, that in the course of centuries the
whites of South Africa will suffer a fate akin to that which befell
the Greek colonists in the Tauric Chersonese, and be swallowed up in
the overwhelming mass of black barbarism.

On the other hand, it may fairly be said that in America and Australia
the English race has already entered into and begun the enjoyment of
its great inheritance. When these continents were settled they
contained the largest tracts of fertile, temperate, thinly peopled
country on the face of the globe. We cannot rate too highly the
importance of their acquisition. Their successful settlement was a
feat which by comparison utterly dwarfs all the European wars of the
last two centuries; just as the importance of the issues at stake in
the wars of Rome and Carthage completely overshadowed the interests
for which the various contemporary Greek kingdoms were at the same
time striving.

Australia, which was much less important than America, was also won
and settled with far less difficulty. The natives were so few in
number and of such a low type, that they practically offered no
resistance at all, being but little more hindrance than an equal
number of ferocious beasts. There was no rivalry whatever by any
European power, because the actual settlement--not the mere
expatriation of convicts--only began when England, as a result of her
struggle with Republican and Imperial France, had won the absolute
control of the seas. Unknown to themselves, Nelson and his fellow
admirals settled the fate of Australia, upon which they probably never
wasted a thought. Trafalgar decided much more than the mere question
whether Great Britain should temporarily share the fate that so soon
befell Prussia; for in all probability it decided the destiny of the
island-continent that lay in the South Seas.

The history of the English-speaking race in America has been widely
different. In Australia there was no fighting whatever, whether with
natives or with other foreigners. In America for the past two
centuries and a half there has been a constant succession of contests
with powerful and warlike native tribes, with rival European nations,
and with American nations of European origin. But even in America
there have been wide differences in the way the work has had to be
done in different parts of the country, since the close of the great
colonial contests between England, France, and Spain.

The extension of the English westward through Canada since the war of
the Revolution has been in its essential features merely a less
important repetition of what has gone on in the northern United
States. The gold miner, the transcontinental railway, and the soldier
have been the pioneers of civilization. The chief point of difference,
which was but small, arose from the fact that the whole of western
Canada was for a long time under the control of the most powerful of
all the fur companies, in whose employ were very many French voyageurs
and coureurs des bois. From these there sprang up in the valleys of
the Red River and the Saskatchewan a singular race of half-breeds,
with a unique semi-civilization of their own. It was with these
half-breeds, and not, as in the United States, with the Indians, that
the settlers of northwestern Canada had their main difficulties.

In what now forms the United States, taking the country as a whole,
the foes who had to be met and overcome were very much more
formidable. The ground had to be not only settled but conquered,
sometimes at the expense of the natives, often at the expense of rival
European races. As already pointed out the Indians themselves formed
one of the main factors in deciding the fate of the continent. They
were never able in the end to avert the white conquest, but they could
often delay its advance for a long spell of years. The Iroquois, for
instance, held their own against all comers for two centuries. Many
other tribes stayed for a time the oncoming white flood, or even drove
it back; in Maine the settlers were for a hundred years confined to a
narrow strip of sea-coast. Against the Spaniards, there were even here
and there Indian nations who definitely recovered the ground they had

When the whites first landed, the superiority and, above all, the
novelty of their arms gave them a very great advantage. But the
Indians soon became accustomed to the new-comers' weapons and style of
warfare. By the time the English had consolidated the Atlantic
colonies under their rule, the Indians had become what they have
remained ever since, the most formidable savage foes ever encountered
by colonists of European stock. Relatively to their numbers, they have
shown themselves far more to be dreaded than the Zulus or even the

Their presence has caused the process of settlement to go on at
unequal rates of speed in different places; the flood has been hemmed
in at one point, or has been forced to flow round an island of native
population at another. Had the Indians been as helpless as the native
Australians were, the continent of North America would have had an
altogether different history. It would not only have been settled far
more rapidly, but also on very different lines. Not only have the red
men themselves kept back the settlements, but they have also had a
very great effect upon the outcome of the struggles between the
different intrusive European peoples. Had the original inhabitants of
the Mississippi valley been as numerous and unwarlike as the Aztecs,
de Soto would have repeated the work of Cortes, and we would very
possibly have been barred out of the greater portion of our present
domain. Had it not been for their Indian allies, it would have been
impossible for the French to prolong, as they did, their struggle with
their much more numerous English neighbors.

The Indians have shrunk back before our advance only after fierce and
dogged resistance. They were never numerous in the land, but exactly
what their numbers were when the whites first appeared is impossible to
tell. Probably an estimate of half a million for those within the limits
of the present United States is not far wrong; but in any such
calculation there is of necessity a large element of mere rough
guess-work. Formerly writers greatly over-estimated their original
numbers, counting them by millions. Now it is the fashion to go to the
other extreme, and even to maintain that they have not decreased at all.
This last is a theory that can only be upheld on the supposition that
the whole does not consist of the sum of the parts; for whereas we can
check off on our fingers the tribes that have slightly increased, we can
enumerate scores that have died out almost before our eyes. Speaking
broadly, they have mixed but little with the English (as distinguished
from the French and Spanish) invaders. They are driven back, or die out,
or retire to their own reservations; but they are not often assimilated.
Still, on every frontier, there is always a certain amount of
assimilation going on, much more than is commonly admitted;[1] and
whenever a French or Spanish community has been absorbed by the
energetic Americans, a certain amount of Indian blood has been absorbed
also. There seems to be a chance that in one part of our country, the
Indian territory, the Indians, who are continually advancing in
civilization, will remain as the ground element of the population, like
the Creoles in Louisiana, or the Mexicans in New Mexico.

The Americans when they became a nation continued even more
successfully the work which they had begun as citizens of the several
English colonies. At the outbreak of the Revolution they still all
dwelt on the seaboard, either on the coast itself or along the banks
of the streams flowing into the Atlantic. When the fight at Lexington
took place they had no settlements beyond the mountain chain on our
western border. It had taken them over a century and a half to spread
from the Atlantic to the Alleghanies. In the next three quarters of a
century they spread from the Alleghanies to the Pacific. In doing this
they not only dispossessed the Indian tribes, but they also won the
land from its European owners. Britain had to yield the territory
between the Ohio and the Great Lakes. By a purchase, of which we
frankly announced that the alternative would be war, we acquired from
France the vast, ill-defined region known as Louisiana. From the
Spaniards, or from their descendants, we won the lands of Florida,
Texas, New Mexico, and California.

All these lands were conquered after we had become a power,
independent of every other, and one within our own borders; when we
were no longer a loose assemblage of petty seaboard communities, each
with only such relationship to its neighbor as was implied in their
common subjection to a foreign king and a foreign people. Moreover, it
is well always to remember that at the day when we began our career as
a nation we already differed from our kinsmen of Britain in blood as
well as in name; the word American already had more than a merely
geographical signification. Americans belong to the English race only
in the sense in which Englishmen belong to the German. The fact that
no change of language has accompanied the second wandering of our
people, from Britain to America, as it accompanied their first, from
Germany to Britain, is due to the further fact that when the second
wandering took place the race possessed a fixed literary language,
and, thanks to the ease of communication, was kept in touch with the
parent stock. The change of blood was probably as great in one case as
in the other. The modern Englishman is descended from a Low-Dutch
stock, which, when it went to Britain, received into itself an
enormous infusion of Celtic, a much smaller infusion of Norse and
Danish, and also a certain infusion of Norman-French blood. When this
new English stock came to America it mingled with and absorbed into
itself immigrants from many European lands, and the process has gone
on ever since. It is to be noted that, of the new blood thus acquired,
the greatest proportion has come from Dutch and German sources, and
the next greatest from Irish, while the Scandinavian element comes
third, and the only other of much consequence is French Huguenot. Thus
it appears that no new element of importance has been added to the
blood. Additions have been made to the elemental race-strains in much
the same proportion as these were originally combined.

Some latter-day writers deplore the enormous immigration to our shores
as making us a heterogeneous instead of a homogeneous people; but as a
matter of fact we are less heterogeneous at the present day than we
were at the outbreak of the Revolution. Our blood was as much mixed a
century ago as it is now. No State now has a smaller proportion of
English blood than New York or Pennsylvania had in 1775. Even in New
England, where the English stock was purest, there was a certain
French and Irish mixture; in Virginia there were Germans in addition.
In the other colonies, taken as a whole, it is not probable that much
over half of the blood was English; Dutch, French, German, and Gaelic
communities abounded.

But all were being rapidly fused into one people. As the Celt of
Cornwall and the Saxon of Wessex are now alike Englishmen, so in 1775
Hollander and Huguenot, whether in New York or South Carolina, had
become Americans, undistinguishable from the New Englanders and
Virginians, the descendants of the men who followed Cromwell or
charged behind Rupert. When the great western movement began we were
already a people by ourselves. Moreover, the immense immigration from
Europe that has taken place since, had little or no effect on the way
in which we extended our boundaries; it only began to be important
about the time that we acquired our present limits. These limits would
in all probability be what they now are even if we had not received a
single European colonist since the Revolution.

Thus the Americans began their work of western conquest as a separate
and individual people, at the moment when they sprang into national
life. It has been their great work ever since. All other questions
save those of the preservation of the Union itself and of the
emancipation of the blacks have been of subordinate importance when
compared with the great question of how rapidly and how completely
they were to subjugate that part of their continent lying between the
eastern mountains and the Pacific. Yet the statesmen of the Atlantic
seaboard were often unable to perceive this, and indeed frequently
showed the same narrow jealousy of the communities beyond the
Alleghanies that England felt for all America. Even if they were too
broad-minded and far-seeing to feel thus, they yet were unable to
fully appreciate the magnitude of the interests at stake in the west.
They thought more of our right to the North Atlantic fisheries than of
our ownership of the Mississippi valley; they were more interested in
the fate of a bank or a tariff than in the settlement of the Oregon
boundary. Most contemporary writers showed similar shortcomings in
their sense of historic perspective. The names of Ethan Allen and
Marion are probably better known than is that of George Rogers Clark;
yet their deeds, as regards their effects, could no more be compared
to his, than his could be compared to Washington's. So it was with
Houston. During his lifetime there were probably fifty men who, east
of the Mississippi, were deemed far greater than he was. Yet in most
cases their names have already almost faded from remembrance, while
his fame will grow steadily brighter as the importance of his deeds is
more thoroughly realized. Fortunately, in the long run, the mass of
easterners always backed up their western brethren.

The kind of colonizing conquest, whereby the people of the United
States have extended their borders, has much in common with the
similar movements in Canada and Australia, all of them, standing in
sharp contrast to what has gone on in Spanish-American lands. But of
course each is marked out in addition by certain peculiarities of its
own. Moreover, even in the United States, the movement falls naturally
into two divisions, which on several points differ widely from each

The way in which the southern part of our western country--that is,
all the land south of the Ohio, and from thence on to the Rio Grande
and the Pacific--was won and settled, stands quite alone. The region
north of it was filled up in a very different manner. The Southwest,
including therein what was once called simply the West, and afterwards
the Middle West, was won by the people themselves, acting as
individuals, or as groups of individuals, who hewed out their own
fortunes in advance of any governmental action. On the other hand, the
Northwest, speaking broadly, was acquired by the government, the
settlers merely taking possession of what the whole country guaranteed
them. The Northwest is essentially a national domain; it is fitting
that it should be, as it is, not only by position but by feeling, the
heart of the nation.

North of the Ohio the regular army went first. The settlements grew up
behind the shelter of the federal troops of Harmar, St. Claire, and
Wayne, and of their successors even to our own day. The wars in which
the borderers themselves bore any part were few and trifling compared
to the contests waged by the adventurers who won Kentucky, Tennessee,
and Texas.

In the Southwest the early settlers acted as their own army, and
supplied both leaders and men. Sevier, Robertson, Clark, and Boon led
their fellow pioneers to battle, as Jackson did afterwards, and as
Houston did later still. Indeed the Southwesterners not only won their
own soil for themselves, but they were the chief instruments in the
original acquisition of the Northwest also. Had it not been for the
conquest of the Illinois towns in 1779 we would probably never have
had any Northwest to settle; and the huge tract between the upper
Mississippi and the Columbia, then called Upper Louisiana, fell into
our hands, only because the Kentuckians and Tennesseeans were
resolutely bent on taking possession of New Orleans, either by bargain
or battle. All of our territory lying beyond the Alleghanies, north
and south, was first won for us by the Southwesterners, fighting for
their own hand. The northern part was afterwards filled up by the
thrifty, vigorous men of the Northeast, whose sons became the real
rulers as well as the preservers of the Union; but these settlements
of Northerners were rendered possible only by the deeds of the nation
as a whole. They entered on land that the Southerners had won, and
they were kept there by the strong arm of the Federal Government;
whereas the Southerners owed most of their victories only to

The first-comers around Marietta did, it is true, share to a certain
extent in the dangers of the existing Indian wars; but their trials
are not to be mentioned beside those endured by the early settlers of
Tennessee and Kentucky, and whereas these latter themselves subdued
and drove out their foes, the former took but an insignificant part in
the contest by which the possession of their land was secured.
Besides, the strongest and most numerous Indian tribes were in the

The Southwest developed its civilization on its own lines, for good
and for ill; the Northwest was settled under the national ordinance of
1787, which absolutely determined its destiny, and thereby in the end
also determined the destiny of the whole nation. Moreover, the gulf
coast, as well as the interior, from the Mississippi to the Pacific,
was held by foreign powers; while in the north this was only true of
the country between the Ohio and the Great Lakes during the first
years of the Revolution, until the Kentucky backwoodsmen conquered it.
Our rivals of European race had dwelt for generations along the lower
Mississippi and the Rio Grande, in Florida, and in California, when we
made them ours. Detroit, Vincennes, St. Louis, and New Orleans, St.
Augustine, San Antonio, Santa Fe, and San Francisco are cities that
were built by Frenchmen or Spaniards; we did not found them, but
conquered them. All but the first two are in the Southwest, and of
these two one was first taken and governed by Southwesterners. On the
other hand, the Northwestern cities, from Cincinnati and Chicago to
Helena and Portland, were founded by our own people, by the people who
now have possession of them.

The Southwest was conquered only after years of hard fighting with the
original owners. The way in which this was done bears much less
resemblance to the sudden filling up of Australia and California by
the practically unopposed overflow from a teeming and civilized mother
country, than it does to the original English conquest of Britain
itself. The warlike borderers who thronged across the Alleghanies, the
restless and reckless hunters, the hard, dogged, frontier farmers, by
dint of grim tenacity overcame and displaced Indians, French, and
Spaniards alike, exactly as, fourteen hundred years before, Saxon and
Angle had overcome and displaced the Cymric and Gaelic Celts. They
were led by no one commander; they acted under orders from neither
king nor congress; they were not carrying out the plans of any
far-sighted leader. In obedience to the instincts working half blindly
within their breasts, spurred ever onwards by the fierce desires of
their eager hearts, they made in the wilderness homes for their
children, and by so doing wrought out the destinies of a continental
nation. They warred and settled from the high hill-valleys of the
French Broad and the Upper Cumberland to the half-tropical basin of
the Rio Grande, and to where the Golden Gate lets through the
long-heaving waters of the Pacific. The story of how this was done
forms a compact and continuous whole. The fathers followed Boon or
fought at King's Mountain; the sons marched south with Jackson to
overcome the Creeks and beat back the British; the grandsons died at
the Alamo or charged to victory at San Jacinto. They were doing their
share of a work that began with the conquest of Britain, that entered
on its second and wider period after the defeat of the Spanish Armada,
that culminated in the marvellous growth of the United States. The
winning of the West and Southwest is a stage in the conquest of a

1. To this I can testify of my own knowledge as regards Montana, Dakota,
and Minnesota. The mixture usually takes place in the ranks of the
population where individuals lose all trace of their ancestry after two
or three generations; so it is often honestly ignored, and sometimes
mention of it is suppressed, the man regarding it as a taint. But I also
know many very wealthy old frontiersmen whose half-breed children are
now being educated, generally at convent schools, while in the
Northwestern cities I could point out some very charming men and women,
in the best society, with a strain of Indian blood in their veins.



The result of England's last great colonial struggle with France was to
sever from the latter all her American dependencies, her colonists
becoming the subjects of alien and rival powers. England won Canada and
the Ohio valley; while France ceded to her Spanish allies Louisiana,
including therein all the territory vaguely bounded by the Mississippi
and the Pacific. As an offset to this gain Spain had herself lost to
England both Floridas, as the coast regions between Georgia and
Louisiana were then called.

Thus the thirteen colonies, at the outset of their struggle for
independence, saw themselves surrounded north, south, and west, by lands
where the rulers and the ruled were of different races, but where rulers
and ruled alike were hostile to the new people that was destined in the
end to master them all.

The present province of Quebec, then called Canada, was already, what
she has to this day remained, a French state acknowledging the English
king as her over-lord. Her interests did not conflict with those of our
people, nor touch them in any way, and she has had little to do with our
national history, and nothing whatever to do with the history of the

In the peninsula of East Florida, in the land of the cypress, palmetto,
and live oak, of open savannas, of sandy pine forests, and impenetrable,
interminable morasses, a European civilization more ancient than any in
the English colonies was mouldering in slow decay. Its capital city was
quaint St. Augustine, the old walled town that was founded by the
Spaniards long years before the keel of the _Half-Moon_ furrowed
the broad Hudson, or the ships of the Puritans sighted the New England
coast. In times past St. Augustine had once and again seen her harbor
filled with the huge, cumbrous hulls, and whitened by the bellying
sails, of the Spanish war vessels, when the fleets of the Catholic king
gathered there, before setting out against the seaboard towns of Georgia
and the Carolinas; and she had to suffer from and repulse the
retaliatory inroads of the English colonists. Once her priests and
soldiers had brought the Indian tribes, far and near, under subjection,
and had dotted the wilderness with fort and church and plantation, the
outposts of her dominion; but that was long ago, and the tide of Spanish
success had turned and begun to ebb many years before the English took
possession of Florida. The Seminoles, fierce and warlike, whose warriors
fought on foot and on horseback, had avenged in countless bloody forays
their fellow-Indian tribes, whose very names had perished under Spanish
rule. The churches and forts had crumbled into nothing; only the cannon
and the brazen bells, half buried in the rotting mould, remained to mark
the place where once stood spire and citadel. The deserted plantations,
the untravelled causeways, no longer marred the face of the tree-clad
land, for even their sites had ceased to be distinguishable; the great
high-road that led to Pensacola had faded away, overgrown by the rank
luxuriance of the semi-tropical forest. Throughout the interior the
painted savages roved at will, uncontrolled by Spaniard or Englishman,
owing allegiance only to the White Chief of Tallasotchee. St. Augustine,
with its British garrison and its Spanish and Minorcan townsfolk,[2] was
still a gathering place for a few Indian traders, and for the scattered
fishermen of the coast; elsewhere there were in all not more than a
hundred families.[3]

Beyond the Chattahooche and the Appalachicola, stretching thence to the
Mississippi and its delta, lay the more prosperous region of West
Florida.[4] Although taken by the English from Spain, there were few
Spaniards among the people, who were controlled by the scanty British
garrisons at Pensacola, Mobile, and Natchez. On the Gulf coast the
inhabitants were mainly French creoles. They were an indolent,
pleasure-loving race, fond of dancing and merriment, living at ease in
their low, square, roomy houses on the straggling, rudely farmed
plantations that lay along the river banks. Their black slaves worked
for them; they, themselves spent much of their time in fishing and
fowling. Their favorite arm was the light fowling-piece, for they were
expert wing shots;[5] unlike the American backwoodsmen, who knew nothing
of shooting on the wing, and looked down on smooth-bores, caring only
for the rifle, the true weapon of the freeman. In winter the creoles
took their negroes to the hills, where they made tar from the pitch
pine, and this they exported, as well as indigo, rice, tobacco, bear's
oil, peltry, oranges, and squared timber. Cotton was grown, but only for
home use. The British soldiers dwelt in stockaded forts, mounting light
cannon; the governor lived in the high stone castle built of old by the
Spaniards at Pensacola.[6]

In the part of west Florida lying along the east bank of the
Mississippi, there were also some French creoles and a few Spaniards,
with of course negroes and Indians to boot. But the population consisted
mainly of Americans from the old colonies, who had come thither by sea
in small sailing-vessels, or had descended the Ohio and the Tennessee in
flat-boats, or, perchance, had crossed the Creek country with pack
ponies, following the narrow trails of the Indian traders. With them
were some English and Scotch, and the Americans themselves had little
sympathy with the colonies, feeling instead a certain dread and dislike
of the rough Carolinian mountaineers, who were their nearest white
neighbors on the east.[7] They therefore, for the most part, remained
loyal to the crown in the Revolutionary struggle, and suffered

When Louisiana was ceded to Spain, most of the French creoles who formed
her population were clustered together in the delta of the Mississippi;
the rest were scattered out here and there, in a thin, dotted line, up
the left bank of the river to the Missouri, near the mouth of which
there were several small villages,--St. Louis, St. Genevieve, St.
Charles.[8] A strong Spanish garrison held New Orleans, where the
creoles, discontented with their new masters, had once risen in a revolt
that was speedily quelled and severely punished. Small garrisons were
also placed in the different villages.

Our people had little to do with either Florida or Louisiana until after
the close of the Revolutionary war; but very early in that struggle, and
soon after the movement west of the mountains began, we were thrown into
contact with the French of the Northwestern Territory, and the result
was of the utmost importance to the future welfare of the whole nation.

This northwestern land lay between the Mississippi, the Ohio, and the
Great Lakes. It now constitutes five of our large States and part of a
sixth. But when independence was declared it was quite as much a foreign
territory, considered from the standpoint of the old thirteen colonies,
as Florida or Canada; the difference was that, whereas during the war we
failed in our attempts to conquer Florida and Canada, we succeeded in
conquering the Northwest. The Northwest formed no part of our country as
it originally stood; it had no portion in the declaration of
independence. It did not revolt; it was conquered. Its inhabitants, at
the outset of the Revolution, no more sympathized with us, and felt no
greater inclination to share our fate, than did their kinsmen in Quebec
or the Spaniards in St. Augustine. We made our first important conquest
during the Revolution itself,--beginning thus early what was to be our
distinguishing work for the next seventy years.

These French settlements, which had been founded about the beginning of
the century, when the English still clung to the estuaries of the
seaboard, were grouped in three clusters, separated by hundreds of miles
of wilderness. One of these clusters, containing something like a third
of the total population, was at the straits, around Detroit.[9] It was
the seat of the British power in that section, and remained in British
hands for twenty years after we had become a nation.

The other two were linked together by their subsequent history, and it
is only with them that we have to deal. The village of Vincennes lay on
the eastern bank of the Wabash, with two or three smaller villages
tributary to it in the country round about; and to the west, beside the
Mississippi, far above where it is joined by the Ohio, lay the so-called
Illinois towns, the villages of Kaskaskia and Cahokia, with between them
the little settlements of Prairie du Rocher and St. Philip.[10]

Both these groups of old French hamlets were in the fertile prairie
region of what is now southern Indiana and Illinois. We have taken into
our language the word prairie, because when our backwoodsmen first
reached the land and saw the great natural meadows of long grass--sights
unknown to the gloomy forests wherein they had always dwelt--they knew
not what to call them, and borrowed the term already in use among the
French inhabitants.

The great prairies, level or rolling, stretched from north to south,
separated by broad belts of high timber. Here and there copses of
woodland lay like islands in the sunny seas of tall, waving grass. Where
the rivers ran, their alluvial bottoms were densely covered with trees
and underbrush, and were often overflowed in the spring freshets.
Sometimes the prairies were long, narrow strips of meadow land; again
they were so broad as to be a day's journey across, and to the American,
bred in a wooded country where the largest openings were the beaver
meadows and the clearings of the frontier settlers, the stretches of
grass land seemed limitless. They abounded in game. The buffalo crossed
and recrossed them, wandering to and fro in long files, beating narrow
trails that they followed year in and year out; while bear, elk, and
deer dwelt in the groves around the borders.[11]

There were perhaps some four thousand inhabitants in these French
villages, divided almost equally between those in the Illinois and those
along the Wabash.[12]

The country came into the possession of the British--not of the colonial
English or Americans--at the close of Pontiac's war, the aftermath of
the struggle which decided against the French the ownership of America.
It was held as a new British province, not as an extension of any of the
old colonies; and finally in 1774, by the famous Quebec Act, it was
rendered an appanage of Canada, governed from the latter. It is a
curious fact that England immediately adopted towards her own colonists
the policy of the very nationality she had ousted. From the date of the
triumphant peace won by Wolfe's victory, the British government became
the most active foe of the spread of the English race in America. This
position Britain maintained for many years after the failure of her
attempt to bar her colonists out of the Ohio valley. It was the position
she occupied when at Ghent in 1814 her commissioners tried to hem in the
natural progress of her colonists' children by the erection of a great
"neutral belt" of Indian territory, guaranteed by the British king. It
was the role which her statesmen endeavored to make her play when at a
later date they strove to keep Oregon a waste rather than see it peopled
by Americans.

In the northwest she succeeded to the French policy as well as the
French position. She wished the land to remain a wilderness, the home of
the trapper and the fur trader, of the Indian hunter and the French
voyageur. She desired it to be kept as a barrier against the growth of
the seaboard colonies towards the interior. She regarded the new lands
across the Atlantic as being won and settled, not for the benefit of the
men who won and settled them, but for the benefit of the merchants and
traders who stayed at home. It was this that rendered the Revolution
inevitable; the struggle was a revolt against the whole mental attitude
of Britain in regard to America, rather than against any one special act
or set of acts. The sins and shortcomings of the colonists had been
many, and it would be easy to make out a formidable catalogue of
grievances against them, on behalf of the mother country; but on the
great underlying question they were wholly in the right, and their
success was of vital consequence to the well-being of the race on this

Several of the old colonies urged vague claims to parts of the
Northwestern Territory, basing them on ancient charters and Indian
treaties; but the British heeded them no more than the French had, and
they were very little nearer fulfilment after the defeat of Montcalm and
Pontiac than before. The French had held adverse possession in spite of
them for sixty years; the British held similar possession for fifteen
more. The mere statement of the facts is enough to show the intrinsic
worthlessness of the titles. The Northwest was acquired from France by
Great Britain through conquest and treaty; in a precisely similar
way--Clark taking the place of Wolfe--it was afterwards won from Britain
by the United States. We gained it exactly as we afterwards gained
Louisiana, Florida, Oregon, California, New Mexico, and Texas: partly by
arms, partly by diplomacy, partly by the sheer growth and pressure of
our spreading population. The fact that the conquest took place just
after we had declared ourselves a free nation, and while we were still
battling to maintain our independence, does not alter its character in
the least; but it has sufficed to render the whole transaction very hazy
in the minds of most subsequent historians, who generally speak as if
the Northwest Territory had been part of our original possessions.

The French who dwelt in the land were at the time little affected by the
change which transferred their allegiance from one European king to
another. They were accustomed to obey, without question, the orders of
their superiors. They accepted the results of the war submissively, and
yielded a passive obedience to their new rulers.[13] Some became rather
attached to the officers who came among them; others grew rather to
dislike them: most felt merely a vague sentiment of distrust and
repulsion, alike for the haughty British officer in his scarlet uniform,
and for the reckless backwoodsman clad in tattered homespun or buckskin.
They remained the owners of the villages, the tillers of the soil. At
first few English or American immigrants, save an occasional fur trader,
came to live among them. But their doom was assured; their rule was at
an end forever. For a while they were still to compose the bulk of the
scanty population; but nowhere were they again to sway their own
destinies. In after years they fought for and against both whites and
Indians; they faced each other, ranged beneath the rival banners of
Spain, England, and the insurgent colonists; but they never again fought
for their old flag or for their own sovereignty.

From the overthrow of Pontiac to the outbreak of the Revolution the
settlers in the Illinois and round Vincennes lived in peace under their
old laws and customs, which were continued by the British
commandants.[14] They had been originally governed, in the same way that
Canada was, by the laws of France, adapted, however, to the
circumstances of the new country. Moreover, they had local customs which
were as binding as the laws. After the conquest the British commandants
who came in acted as civil judges also. All public transactions were
recorded in French by notaries public. Orders issued in English were
translated into French so that they might be understood. Criminal cases
were referred to England. Before the conquest the procureur du roi gave
sentence by his own personal decision in civil cases; if the matters
were important it was the custom for each party to name two arbitrators,
and the procureur du roi a fifth; while an appeal might be made to the
council superieur at New Orleans. The British commandant assumed the
place of the procureur du roi, although there were one or two
half-hearted efforts made to introduce the Common Law.

The original French commandants had exercised the power of granting to
every person who petitioned as much land as the petitioner chose to ask
for, subject to the condition that part of it should be cultivated
within a year, under penalty of its reversion to "the king's
demesnes."[15] The English followed the same custom. A large quantity of
land was reserved in the neighborhood of each village for the common
use, and a very small quantity for religious purposes. The common was
generally a large patch of enclosed prairie, part of it being
cultivated, and the remainder serving as a pasture for the cattle of the
inhabitants.[16] The portion of the common set aside for agriculture was
divided into strips of one arpent in front by forty in depth, and one or
more allotted to each inhabitant according to his skill and industry as
a cultivator.[17] The arpent, as used by the western French, was a
rather rough measure of surface, less in size than an acre.[18] The
farms held by private ownership likewise ran back in long strips from a
narrow front that usually lay along some stream.[19] Several of them
generally lay parallel to one another, each including something like a
hundred acres, but occasionally much exceeding this amount.

The French inhabitants were in very many cases not of pure blood. The
early settlements had been made by men only, by soldiers, traders, and
trappers, who took Indian wives. They were not trammelled by the queer
pride which makes a man of English stock unwilling to make a red-skinned
woman his wife, though anxious enough to make her his concubine. Their
children were baptized in the little parish churches by the black-robed
priests, and grew up holding the same position in the community as was
held by their fellows both of whose parents were white. But, in addition
to these free citizens, the richer inhabitants owned both red and black
slaves; negroes imported from Africa, or Indians overcome and taken in
battle.[20] There were many freedmen and freedwomen of both colors, and
in consequence much mixture of blood.

They were tillers of the soil, and some followed, in addition, the
trades of blacksmith and carpenter. Very many of them were trappers or
fur traders. Their money was composed of furs and peltries, rated at a
fixed price per pound;[21] none other was used unless expressly so
stated in the contract. Like the French of Europe, their unit of value
was the livre, nearly equivalent to the modern franc. They were not very
industrious, nor very thrifty husbandmen. Their farming implements were
rude, their methods of cultivation simple and primitive, and they
themselves were often lazy and improvident. Near their town they had
great orchards of gnarled apple-trees, planted by their forefathers when
they came from France, and old pear-trees, of a kind unknown to the
Americans; but their fields often lay untilled, while the owners lolled
in the sunshine smoking their pipes. In consequence they were sometimes
brought to sore distress for food, being obliged to pluck their corn
while it was still green.[22]

The pursuits of the fur trader and fur trapper were far more congenial
to them, and it was upon these that they chiefly depended. The
half-savage life of toil, hardship, excitement, and long intervals of
idleness attracted them strongly. This was perhaps one among the reasons
why they got on so much better with the Indians than did the Americans,
who, wherever they went, made clearings and settlements, cut down the
trees, and drove off the game.

But even these pursuits were followed under the ancient customs and
usages of the country, leave to travel and trade being first obtained
from the commandant[23] for the rule of the commandant was almost
patriarchal. The inhabitants were utterly unacquainted with what the
Americans called liberty. When they passed under our rule, it was soon
found that it was impossible to make them understand such an institution
as trial by jury; they throve best under the form of government to which
they had been immemorially accustomed--a commandant to give them orders,
with a few troops to back him up.[24] They often sought to escape from
these orders, but rarely to defy them; their lawlessness was like the
lawlessness of children and savages; any disobedience was always to a
particular ordinance, not to the system.

The trader having obtained his permit, built his boats,--whether light,
roomy bateaux made of boards, or birch-bark canoes, or pirogues, which
were simply hollowed out logs. He loaded them with paint, powder,
bullets, blankets, beads, and rum, manned them with hardy voyageurs,
trained all their lives in the use of pole and paddle, and started off
up or down the Mississippi,[25] the Ohio, or the Wabash, perhaps making
a long carry or portage over into the Great Lakes. It took him weeks,
often months, to get to the first trading-point, usually some large
winter encampment of Indians. He might visit several of these, or stay
the whole winter through at one, buying the furs.[26] Many of the French
coureurs des bois, whose duty it was to traverse the wilderness, and who
were expert trappers, took up their abode with the Indians, taught them
how to catch the sable, fisher, otter, and beaver, and lived among them
as members of the tribe, marrying copper-colored squaws, and rearing
dusky children. When the trader had exchanged his goods for the peltries
of these red and white skin-hunters, he returned to his home, having
been absent perhaps a year or eighteen months. It was a hard life; many
a trader perished in the wilderness by cold or starvation, by an upset
where the icy current ran down the rapids like a mill-race, by the
attack of a hostile tribe, or even in a drunken brawl with the friendly
Indians, when voyageur, half-breed, and Indian alike had been frenzied
by draughts of fiery liquor.[27]

Next to the commandant in power came the priest. He bore unquestioned
rule over his congregation, but only within certain limits; for the
French of the backwoods, leavened by the presence among them of so many
wild and bold spirits, could not be treated quite in the same way as the
more peaceful _habitants_ of Lower Canada. The duty of the priest
was to look after the souls of his sovereign's subjects, to baptize,
marry, and bury them, to confess and absolve them, and keep them from
backsliding, to say mass, and to receive the salary due him for
celebrating divine service; but, though his personal influence was of
course very great, he had no temporal authority, and could not order his
people either to fight or to work. Still less could he dispose of their
laud, a privilege inhering only in the commandant and in the
commissaries of the villages, where they were expressly authorized so to
do by the sovereign.[28]

The average inhabitant, though often loose in his morals, was very
religious. He was superstitious also, for he firmly believed in omens,
charms, and witchcraft, and when worked upon by his dread of the unseen
and the unknown he sometimes did terrible deeds, as will be related
farther on.

Under ordinary circumstances he was a good-humored, kindly man, always
polite--his manners offering an agreeable contrast to those of some of
our own frontiersmen,--with a ready smile and laugh, and ever eager to
join in any merrymaking. On Sundays and fast-days he was summoned to the
little parish church by the tolling of the old bell in the small wooden
belfry. The church was a rude oblong building, the walls made out of
peeled logs, thrust upright in the ground, chinked with moss and coated
with clay or cement. Thither every man went, clad in a capote or blanket
coat, a bright silk handkerchief knotted round his head, and his feet
shod with moccasins or strong rawhide sandals. If young, he walked or
rode a shaggy pony; if older, he drove his creaking, springless wooden
cart, untired and unironed, in which his family sat on stools.[29]

The grades of society were much more clearly marked than in similar
communities of our own people. The gentry, although not numerous,
possessed unquestioned social and political headship and were the
military leaders; although of course they did not have any thing like
such marked preeminence of position as in Quebec or New Orleans, where
the conditions were more like those obtaining in the old world. There
was very little education. The common people were rarely versed in the
mysteries of reading and writing, and even the wives of the gentry were
often only able to make their marks instead of signing their names.[30]

The little villages in which they dwelt were pretty places,[31] with
wide, shaded streets. The houses lay far apart, often a couple of
hundred feet from one another. They were built of heavy hewn timbers;
those of the better sort were furnished with broad verandas, and
contained large, low-ceilinged rooms, the high mantle-pieces and the
mouldings of the doors and windows being made of curiously carved wood.
Each village was defended by a palisaded fort and block-houses, and was
occasionally itself surrounded by a high wooden stockade. The
inhabitants were extravagantly fond of music and dancing;[32] marriages
and christenings were seasons of merriment, when the fiddles were
scraped all night long, while the moccasined feet danced deftly in time
to the music.

Three generations of isolated life in the wilderness had greatly changed
the characters of these groups of traders, trappers, bateau-men, and
adventurous warriors. It was inevitable that they should borrow many
traits from their savage friends and neighbors. Hospitable, but bigoted
to their old customs, ignorant, indolent, and given to drunkenness, they
spoke a corrupt jargon of the French tongue; the common people were even
beginning to give up reckoning time by months and years, and dated
events, as the Indians did, with reference to the phenomena of nature,
such as the time of the floods, the maturing of the green corn, or the
ripening of the strawberries.[33] All their attributes seemed alien to
the polished army-officers of old France;[34] they had but little more
in common with the latter than with the American backwoodsmen. But they
had kept many valuable qualities, and, in especial, they were brave and
hardy, and, after their own fashion, good soldiers. They had fought
valiantly beside King Louis' musketeers, and in alliance with the
painted warriors of the forest; later on they served, though perhaps
with less heart, under the gloomy ensign of Spain, shared the fate of
the red-coated grenadiers of King George, or followed the lead of the
tall Kentucky riflemen.

1. "Travels by William Bartram," Philadelphia, 1791, pp. 184, 231, 232,
etc. The various Indian names are spelt in a dozen different ways.

2. Reise, etc. (in 1783 and 84), by Johann David Schopf, 1788, II. 362.
The Minorcans were the most numerous and prosperous; then came the
Spaniards, with a few creoles, English, and Germans.

3. J. D. F. Smyth, "Tour in the United States" (1775), London, 1784,
II., 35.

4. _Do_.

5. "Memoire ou Coup-d'Oeil Rapide sur mes differentes voyages et mon
sejour dans la nation Creck, par Le Gal. Milfort, Tastanegy ou grand
chef de guerre de la nation Creck et General de Brigade au service de la
Republique Francaise." Paris, 1802. Writing in 1781, he said Mobile
contained about forty proprietary families, and was "un petit paradis

6. Bartram, 407.

7. _Magazine of American History_, IV., 388. Letter of a New
England settler in 1773.

8. "Annals of St. Louis." Frederic L. Billon. St. Louis, 1886. A
valuable book.

9. In the Haldimand MSS., Series B, vol. 122, p. 2, is a census of
Detroit itself, taken in 1773 by Philip Dejean, justice of the peace.
According to this there were 1,367 souls, of whom 85 were slaves; they
dwelt in 280 houses, with 157 barns, and owned 1,494 horned cattle, 628
sheep, and 1,067 hogs. Acre is used as a measure of length; their united
farms had a frontage of 512, and went back from 40 to 80. Some of the
people, it is specified, were not enumerated because they were out
hunting or trading at the Indian villages. Besides the slaves, there
were 93 servants.

This only refers to the settlers of Detroit proper, and the farms
adjoining. Of the numerous other farms, and the small villages on both
sides of the straits, and of the many families and individuals living as
traders or trappers with the Indians, I can get no good record. Perhaps
the total population, tributary to Detroit was 2,000. It may have been
over this. Any attempt to estimate this creole population perforce
contains much guess-work.

10. State Department MSS., No. 150, Vol. III., p. 89.

11. _Do_ Harmar's letter.

12. State Department MSS, No 30, p 453. Memorial of Francois
Carbonneaux, agent for the inhabitants of the Illinois country. Dec 8,
1784. "Four hundred families [in the Illinois] exclusive of a like
number at Post Vincent" [Vincennes]. Americans had then just begun to
come in, but this enumeration did not refer to them. The population had
decreased during the Revolutionary war, so that at its outbreak there
were probably altogether a thousand families. They were very prolific,
and four to a family is probably not too great an allowance, even when
we consider that in such a community on the frontier there are always
plenty of solitary adventurers. Moreover, there were a number of negro
slaves. Harmar's letter of Nov. 24, 1787, states the adult males of
Kaskaskia and Cahokia at four hundred and forty, not counting those at
St. Philip or Prairie du Rocher. This tallies very well with the
preceding. But of course the number given can only be considered
approximately accurate, and a passage in a letter of Lt-Gov Hamilton
would indicate that it was considerably smaller.

This letter is to be found in the Haldimand MSS, Series B, Vol. 123, p.
53, it is the 'brief account' of his ill-starred expedition against
Vincennes. He says "On taking an account of the Inhabitants at this
place [Vincennes], of all ages and sexes we found their number to amount
to 621, of this 217 fit to bear arms on the spot, several being absent
hunting Buffaloe for their winter provision." But elsewhere in the same
letter he alludes to the adult arms-bearing men as being three hundred
in number, and of course the outlying farms and small tributary villages
are not counted in. This was in December, 1778. Possibly some families
had left for the Spanish possessions after the war broke out, and
returned after it was ended. But as all observers seem to unite in
stating that the settlements either stood still or went backwards during
the Revolutionary struggle, it is somewhat difficult to reconcile the
figures of Hamilton and Carbonneaux.

13. In the Haldimand MSS., Series B, Vol. 122, p. 3, the letter of M.
Ste. Marie from Vincennes, May 3, 1774, gives utterance to the general
feeling of the creoles, when he announces, in promising in their behalf
to carry out the orders of the British commandant, that he is "remplie
de respect pour tout ce qui porte l'emprinte de l'otorite." [sic.]

14. State Department MSS., No. 48, p. 51. Statement of M. Cerre (or
Carre), July, 1786, translated by John Pintard.

15. _Do_.

16. State Department MSS., No. 48, p. 41. Petition of J. B. La Croix, A.
Girardin, etc., dated "at Cohoe in the Illinois 15th July, 1786."

17. Billon, 91.

18. An arpent of land was 180 French feet square. MS. copy of Journal of
Matthew Clarkson in 1766. In Durrett collection.

19. American State Papers, Public Lands, I., II.

20. Fergus Historical Series, No. 12, "Illinois in the 18th Century."
Edward G. Mason, Chicago, 1881. A most excellent number of an excellent
series. The old parish registers of Kaskaskia, going back to 1695,
contain some remarkable names of the Indian mothers--such as Maria
Aramipinchicoue and Domitilla Tehuigouanakigaboucoue. Sometimes the man
is only distinguished by some such title as "The Parisian," or "The

21. Billon, 90.

22. Letter of P. A. Lafarge, Dec. 31, 1786. Billon, 268.

23. State Department MSS., No. 150, Vol. III., p. 519. Letter of Joseph
St. Mann, Aug 23, 1788.

24. _Do_., p 89, Harmar's letter.

25. _Do_., p 519, Letter of Joseph St. Marin.

26. _Do_., p. 89.

27. Journal of Jean Baptiste Perrault, in 1783; in "Indian Tribes," by
Henry R. Schoolcraft, Part III., Philadelphia, 1855. See also Billon,
484, for an interesting account of the adventures of Gratiot, who
afterwards, under American rule, built up a great fur business, and
drove a flourishing trade with Europe, as well as the towns of the
American seaboard.

28. State Department MSS., No. 48, p. 25. A petition concerning a case
in point, affecting the Priest Gibault.

29. "History of Vincennes," by Judge John Law, Vincennes, 1858. pp. 18
and 140. They are just such carts as I have seen myself in the valley of
the Red River, and in the big bend of the Missouri, carrying all the
worldly goods of their owners, the French Metis. These Metis,--ex-trappers,
ex-buffalo runners, and small farmers,--are the best representatives of
the old French of the west; they are a little less civilized, they have
somewhat more Indian blood in their veins, but they are substantially the
same people. It may be noted that the herds of buffaloes that during the
last century thronged the plains of what are now the States of Illinois
and Indiana furnished to the French of Kaskaskia and Vincennes their
winter meat; exactly as during the present century the Saskatchewan Metis
lived on the wild herds until they were exterminated.

30. See the lists of signatures in the State Department MSS., also
Mason's Kaskaskia Parish Records and Law's Vincennes. As an example; the
wife of the Chevalier Vinsenne (who gave his name to Vincennes, and
afterwards fell in the battle where the Chickasaws routed the Northern
French and their Indian allies), was only able to make her mark.

Clark in his letters several times mentions the "gentry," in terms
that imply their standing above the rest of the people.

31. State Department MSS., No. 150, Vol. III., p. 89.

32. "Journal of Jean Baptiste Perrault," 1783.

33. "Voyage en Amerique" (1796), General Victor Collot, Paris, 1804, p.

34. _Do_. Collot calls them "un compose de traiteurs, d'aventuriers, de
coureurs de bois, rameurs, et de guerriers; ignorans, superstitieux et
entetes, qu'aucunes fatigues, aucunes privations, aucunes dangers ne
peuvent arreter dans leurs enterprises, qu'ils mettent toujours fin; ils
n'ont conserve des vertus francaises que le courage."



When we declared ourselves an independent nation there were on our
borders three groups of Indian peoples. The northernmost were the
Iroquois or Six Nations, who dwelt in New York, and stretched down
into Pennsylvania. They had been for two centuries the terror of every
other Indian tribe east of the Mississippi, as well as of the whites;
but their strength had already departed. They numbered only some ten
or twelve thousand all told, and though they played a bloody part in
the Revolutionary struggle, it was merely as subordinate allies of the
British. It did not lie in their power to strike a really decisive
blow. Their chastisement did not result in our gaining new territory;
nor would a failure to chastise them have affected the outcome of the
war nor the terms of peace. Their fate was bound up with that of the
king's cause in America and was decided wholly by events unconnected
with their own success or defeat.

The very reverse was the case with the Indians, tenfold more numerous,
who lived along our western frontier. There they were themselves our
main opponents, the British simply acting as their supporters; and
instead of their fate being settled by the treaty of peace with Britain,
they continued an active warfare for twelve years after it had been
signed. Had they defeated us in the early years of the contest, it is
more than probable that the Alleghanies would have been made our western
boundary at the peace. We won from them vast stretches of territory
because we had beaten their warriors, and we could not have won it
otherwise; whereas the territory of the Iroquois was lost, not because
of their defeat, but because of the defeat of the British.

There were two great groups of these Indians, the ethnic corresponding
roughly with the geographic division. In the northwest, between the
Ohio and the Lakes, were the Algonquin tribes, generally banded
loosely together; in the southwest, between the Tennessee--then called
the Cherokee--and the Gulf, the so-called Appalachians lived. Between
them lay a vast and beautiful region where no tribe dared dwell, but
into which all ventured now and then for war and hunting.

The southwestern Indians were called Appalachians by the olden writers,
because this was the name then given to the southern Alleghanies. It is
doubtful if the term has any exact racial significance; but it serves
very well to indicate a number of Indian nations whose system of
government, ways of life, customs, and general culture were much alike,
and whose civilization was much higher than was that of most other
American tribes.

The Appalachians were in the barbarous, rather than in the merely
savage state. They were divided into five lax confederacies: the
Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles. The latter
were merely a southern offshoot of the Creeks or Muscogees. They were
far more numerous than the northwestern Indians, were less nomadic,
and in consequence had more definite possession of particular
localities; so that their lands were more densely peopled.

In all they amounted to perhaps seventy thousand souls.[1] It is more
difficult to tell the numbers of the different tribes; for the division
lines between them were very ill defined, and were subject to wide
fluctuations. Thus the Creeks, the most formidable of all, were made up
of many bands, differing from each other both in race and speech. The
languages of the Chickasaws and Choctaws did not differ more from the
tongue of the Cherokees, than the two divisions of the latter did from
each other. The Cherokees of the hills, the Otari, spoke a dialect that
could not be understood by the Cherokees of the lowlands, or Erati.
Towns or bands continually broke up and split off from their former
associations, while ambitious and warlike chiefs kept forming new
settlements, and if successful drew large numbers of young warriors from
the older communities. Thus the boundary lines between the confederacies
were ever shifting.[2] Judging from a careful comparison of the
different authorities, the following estimate of the numbers of the
southern tribes at the outbreak of the Revolution may be considered as
probably approximately correct.

The Cherokees, some twelve thousand strong,[3] were the mountaineers of
their race. They dwelt among the blue-topped ridges and lofty peaks of
the southern Alleghanies,[4] in the wild and picturesque region where
the present States of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas
join one another.

To the west of the Cherokees, on the banks of the Mississippi, were
the Chickasaws, the smallest of the southern nations, numbering at the
outside but four thousand souls;[5] but they were also the bravest
and most warlike, and of all these tribal confederacies theirs was the
only one which was at all closely knit together. The whole tribe acted
in unison. In consequence, though engaged in incessant warfare with
the far more numerous Choctaws, Creeks, and Cherokees, they more than
held their own against them all; besides having inflicted on the
French two of the bloodiest defeats they ever suffered from Indians.
Most of the remnants of the Natchez, the strange sun-worshippers, had
taken refuge with the Chickasaws and become completely identified with
them, when their own nationality was destroyed by the arms of New

The Choctaws, the rudest and historically the least important of these
Indians, lived south of the Chickasaws. They were probably rather less
numerous than the Creeks.[6] Though accounted brave they were
treacherous and thievish, and were not as well armed as the others. They
rarely made war or peace as a unit, parties frequently acting in
conjunction with some of the rival European powers, or else joining in
the plundering inroads made by the other Indians upon the white
settlements. Beyond thus furnishing auxiliaries to our other Indian
foes, they had little to do with our history.

The Muscogees or Creeks were the strongest of all. Their southern bands,
living in Florida, were generally considered as a separate confederacy,
under the name of Seminoles. They numbered between twenty-five and
thirty thousand souls,[7] three fourths of them being the Muscogees
proper, and the remainder Seminoles. They dwelt south of the Cherokees
and east of the Choctaws, adjoining the Georgians.

The Creeks and Cherokees were thus by their position the barrier tribes
of the South, who had to stand the brunt of our advance, and who acted
as a buffer between us and the French and Spaniards of the Gulf and the
lower Mississippi. Their fate once decided, that of the Chickasaws and
Chocktaws inevitably followed.

The customs and the political and social systems of these two tribes
were very similar; and those of their two western neighbors were
merely ruder copies thereof. They were very much further advanced than
were the Algonquin nations of the north.

Unlike most mountaineers the Cherokees were not held to be very
formidable fighters, when compared with their fellows of the
lowlands.[8] In 1760 and 1761 they had waged a fierce war with the
whites, had ravaged the Carolina borders, had captured British forts,
and successfully withstood British armies; but though they had held
their own in the field, it had been at the cost of ruinous losses. Since
that period they had been engaged in long wars with the Chickasaws and
Creeks, and had been worsted by both. Moreover, they had been much
harassed by the northern Indians. So they were steadily declining in
power and numbers.[9]

Though divided linguistically into two races, speaking different
dialects, the Otari and Erati, the political divisions did not follow
the lines of language. There were three groups of towns, the Upper,
Lower, and Middle; and these groups often acted independently of one
another. The Upper towns lay for the most part on the Western Waters, as
they were called by the Americans,--the streams running into the
Tennessee. Their inhabitants were known as Overhill Cherokees and were
chiefly Otari; but the towns were none of them permanent, and sometimes
shifted their positions, even changing from one group to another. The
Lower towns, inhabited by the Erati, lay in the flat lands of upper
Georgia and South Carolina, and were the least important. The third
group, larger than either of the others and lying among the hills and
mountains between them, consisted of the Middle towns. Its borders were
ill-marked and were ever shifting.

Thus the towns of the Cherokees stretched from the high upland region,
where rise the loftiest mountains of eastern America, to the warm,
level, low country, the land of the cypress and the long-leaved pine.
Each village stood by itself, in some fertile river-bottom, with
around it apple orchards and fields of maize. Like the other southern
Indians, the Cherokees were more industrious than their northern
neighbors, lived by tillage and agriculture as much as by hunting, and
kept horses, hogs, and poultry. The oblong, story-high houses were
made of peeled logs, morticed into each other and plastered with clay;
while the roof was of chestnut bark or of big shingles. Near to each
stood a small cabin, partly dug out of the ground, and in consequence
very warm; to this the inmates retired in winter, for they were
sensitive to cold. In the centre of each village stood the great
council-house or rotunda, capable of containing the whole population;
it was often thirty feet high, and sometimes stood on a raised mound
of earth.[10]

The Cherokees were a bright, intelligent race, better fitted to "follow
the white man's road" than any other Indians. Like their neighbors, they
were exceedingly fond of games of chance and skill, as well as of
athletic sports. One of the most striking of their national amusements
was the kind of ball-play from which we derive the game of lacrosse. The
implements consisted of ball sticks or rackets, two feet long, strung
with raw-hide webbing, and of a deer-skin ball, stuffed with hair, so as
to be very solid, and about the size of a base ball. Sometimes the game
was played by fixed numbers, sometimes by all the young men of a
village; and there were often tournaments between different towns and
even different tribes. The contests excited the most intense interest,
were waged with desperate resolution, and were preceded by solemn dances
and religious ceremonies; they were tests of tremendous physical
endurance, and were often very rough, legs and arms being occasionally
broken. The Choctaws were considered to be the best ball players.[11]

The Cherokees were likewise fond of dances. Sometimes these were comic
or lascivious, sometimes they were religious in their nature, or were
undertaken prior to starting on the war-trail. Often the dances of the
young men and maidens were very picturesque. The girls, dressed in
white, with silver bracelets and gorgets, and a profusion of gay
ribbons, danced in a circle in two ranks; the young warriors, clad in
their battle finery, danced in a ring around them; all moving in
rhythmic step, as they kept time to the antiphonal chanting[12] and
singing, the young men and girls responding alternately to each other.

The great confederacy of the Muscogees or Creeks, consisting of numerous
tribes, speaking at least five distinct languages, lay in a well-watered
land of small timber.[13] The rapid streams were bordered by narrow
flats of rich soil, and were margined by canebrakes and reed beds. There
were fine open pastures, varied by sandy pine barrens, by groves of
palmetto and magnolia, and by great swamps and cypress ponds. The game
had been largely killed out, the elk and buffalo having been
exterminated and even the deer much thinned, and in consequence the
hunting parties were obliged to travel far into the uninhabited region
to the northward in order to kill their winter supply of meat. But
panthers, wolves, and bears still lurked in the gloomy fastnesses of the
swamps and canebrakes, whence they emerged at night to prey on the hogs
and cattle. The bears had been exceedingly abundant at one time, so much
so as to become one of the main props of the Creek larder, furnishing
flesh, fat, and especially oil for cooking and other purposes; and so
valued were they that the Indians hit upon the novel plan of preserving
them, exactly as Europeans preserve deer and pheasants. Each town put
aside a great tract of land which was known as "the beloved bear
ground,"[14] where the persimmons, haws, chestnuts, muscadines, and fox

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