« ForrigeFortsett »
the savages, and prosecuting the fur trade. They remained during the winter at Niagara ; and in the summer, having built the first ship which had ever navigated Lake Erie, they sailed up that lake and proceeded to Michilimackinac. Hennepin traversed a great part of Illinois, and thence pro ceeded to the Mississippi, ascending this stream to the Falls of St. Anthony. This party spent about three years in exploring the vast wilderness around the lakes, and encountered the most formidable dangers and hardships. On the second of February, 1682, La Salle reached the Mississippi; arrived at Arkansas, of which he took formal possession; and, finally, traced this great highway of the commerce of the western world, to its junction with the Gulf of Mexico. The glorious news of ihe discovery of the mouth of the Mississippi, was carried back by Tonti, and naturally opened fresh hopes to the Canadian colony.
In 1683, the population of the Canadian seulements did not exceed nine thousand. The main check to their operations continued to spring from the hostility of the Iroquois. The Marquis of Denonville was, however, soon appointed Governor-General, and immediately proceeded to Cataraqui with about two thousand troops. From the spirit of uncompromising hatred which was evinced by the Iroquois toward the French, Denonville was determined to strike a decisive blow. An order was accordingly given to condern all ablebodied men of those tribes, who were taken prisoners, to the galleys; and to the eternal disgrace of Denonville, a number of the Iroquois chiefs were decoyed to Fort Frontenac by the Jesuit De Lamberville, put in irons, and sent, under this sentence, to France. As might have been expected, this infamous act roused a deeper vengeance in the hearts of the Iroquois; and the French received full retribution for the injury, in the massacre of their men, women, and children by these tribes, the attack on Fort Frontenac, and the pillage, murder, and conflagration, which were subsequently carried into the upper part of Montreal.
The discovery and settlement of the northern part of the American continent by the English and French, had been nearly contemporaneous. The English had established their settlements along the Atlantic seaboard, and the French occupied, or pretended to occupy, the vast forests around the great lakes, and west of the Alleghany Mountains. Both
held possession of their respective tracts under the authority of their governinents, and claimed them on the same grounds, priority of discovery, conquest, and appropriation. Quebec and Montreal, the French forts on the principal Canadian rivers and the Great Lakes, Oswego and Niagara, Le Bæuf and Du Quesne, were at that time the strong-holds of French power, while the English settlements occupied the country now embraced in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England.
The operations of the two great Indian confederacies which were leagued respectively with the English and French, are identified with the history of the French establishments. These two families were the Iroquois and Algonquins. The confederacy of the Iroquois, which sided with the English, was called by them “ The Six Nations.” It was the most powerful league which is known to have existed on the continent. It was first composed of the Onondagas, the Cayugas, the Senecas, the Oneidas, and the Mohawks; in 1712, the Tuscaroras were adopted into the confederation. These tribes were remarkable for their courage, shrewdness, military talent, energy, ambition, and eloquence. They claimed by patrimony or conquest the whole domain of the country, “ not occupied by the southern Indians, the Sioux, the Kenistenaux, and the Chippewas, and by the English and French, as far west as the Mississippi and Lake Winnipeg, as far northwest as the waters which unite this lake with Hudson's Bay, and as far north as Hudson's Bay and Labrador."* It is alleged that little of genuine Indian eloquence can be found out of the Iroquois confederacy, and they had more vigor, as well as system in their policy, than the other Indian tribes. Their general interests were managed by a grand council of chiefs, who annually assembled at their central canton, Onondaga. Each nation was divided into three tribes, whose totems were the tortoise, the wolf, and the bear. Their councils were conducted with the greatest decorum, solemnity, and deliberation. Governor Clinton in his discourse upon the Iroquois, uses the strong language, that, in “the characteristics of profound policy, they surpassed an assembly of Feudal Barons, and were, perhaps, not far inferior to the great Amphictyonic Council of Greece." Their al
* Clinton's " Discourse."
leged grounds of controversy with the other tribes were commonly the violation of boundary lines; but, doubtless, the true cause was the love of dominion and glory.
Champlain had formed a league against the Iroquois, when he first came into the country ; and Denonville, as we have mentioned, had loaded some of their chiefs with irons, and sent them to the French galleys. They doubtless regarded the inroads of all the whites with jealousy; and we have evidence that their attachment to the English was not strong. “We are born free, we neither depend on Ononthio, or Corlear,” [France or England,] said Garangula, an Iroquois chief, to the governor-general of Canada. But their ancient feuds with the Hurons and Algonquins, and the conduct of the French, induced them to ally themselves with their English neighbours; and their marches against the French colonists, and the remote missionary posts, were like the rushing of a storm through their forests.
On the side of the French, was the race of the Algonquins. This race extended, under different names, from the head of Lake Erie, along the upper lakes, north to Lake Winnipeg and Hudson's Bay, and south to the mouth of the Ohio river. They were also connected with the tribes east of the St. Lawrence, and their influence extended to some of the principal tribes of New England. In the leagues of these two powerful families, there were, however, two exceptions. The Wyandotts or Hurons were of the Iroquois stock, but from unknown causes, they had severed from their chain of tribes, and attached themselves to the French ; while the Ottagamies or Foxes; who were originally of the Algonquin race, took part with the English. The friendship of the Algonquin tribes for the French was founded on obvious
It was the manifest policy of the French to secure their good will, and compacts were made for that object: The French traders advanced to their remotest villages in the prosecution of the fur trade, attended them in their hunting parties and feasts, paid respect to their ceremonies, and became allied with them in marriage. The French 'were affable, gay, and conciliating in their intercourse, while the English were austere and forbidding. Besides, the Jesuit missionaries exerted no small influence in strengthening the friendship of the Indians for the French. They erected little chapels in their territories, carpeted with Indian mats, and
surmounted by the cross; took long journeys into the wilderness in their long black robes to perform the imposing ceremonies of the church, and carried with them sculptured images, and paintings connected with sacred history, which the savages viewed with superstitious awe. Added to this, they practised all the arts of kindness and sympathy for the sick, and held up the crucifix to the fading vision of many a dying neophite.
The French government, when it had once obtained a foothold in Canada, pushed its enterprises into the interior, notwithstanding the enmity of the savages and the hardships of the forest. The colonies which had been sent out from France were composed mainly of thriftless adventurers, gentlemen of slender means, and missionaries of the Church of Rome. In the more remote settlements, rude huts were built, and a few fields were cleared. Quebec and Montreal were the marts of the fur trade, whose operations reached through a large circle, embracing the wilderness, north and west, to Hudson's Bay, beyond the remotest shores of Lake Superior, and extending south to the Gulf of Mexico. The principal establishments made on the northwestern lakes were at Detroit, Chicago, the Falls of St. Mary, Michilimackinac, * St. Joseph, and Green Bay, in the territory of Wisconsin. These establishments were erected for a threefold purpose, trade, religion, and military defence. The forts, surrounded with pickets, and constructed with the rude materials at hand, were built to overawe the Indians, to protect the Jesuits, who generally had their chapels near them, and to serve as dépôts of the sur trade.
The wars which broke out between the French and English for the dominion of the country, and the enmity of the Iroquois, soon made it advisable to reappoint the Count de Frontenac to the chief command ; and, in October of 1689, he arrived at Quebec, with the Iroquois chiefs who had been sent to France. But, notwithstanding the energy and address of Frontenac, little was effected in securing the friendship of this confederacy. Vigorous measures were, however, prosecuted, to advance the settlements, and to secure the cultivation of the lands. The sur trade was prosecuted with
* This is the old fort on the peninsula of Michigan, which was destroy. ed in the Pontiac war, and is distinct from the Island of Mackinaw.
increased success, and the military posts which had been established on the upper lakes were reinforced. In 1698, at the termination of the war between France and England, the English and French Governors entered into amicable arrangements with each other, and also with the Indian tribes, by which peace was for some time preserved.
The Canadian provinces, during the latter period of the French domination, exhibited an extraordinary system of Jurisprudence. Nominally the Coutúme de Paris was the law of the land, extending its jurisdiction to the remotest points of French settlement around the northwestern lakes. Of course, the legal administration in a new country, little known, separated from the parent state by three thousand miles of ocean, and over a people of mixed character, scattered through an immense wilderness, was extremely loose and arbitrary. The commandants of the remote military posts were invested with a general supervision of the colonists around their forts; a sort of military arbitration, comprising the Legislative, the Judicial, and the Executive powers.* This authority was, however, doubtless exercised with mildness, because the French, who now remain in this region, look back to that era as the golden age of jurisprudence. Subordinate to the Governor-General, the Chief Magistrate of the country, there were under-Governors, Intendants, and a Council. The Governor-General of Quebec was allowed an annual salary of twenty thousand crowns, which included the support of a Company of guards, for his protection, and the garrisoning of the fort. To this sum was added the annual present of a thousand crowns from the “ Farmers of the Beaver skins." f He had the control of the military posts, and could bestow commissions on whom he pleased, with the approbation of the King, excepting particular governorships, or the place of a Lord Lieutenant of the Province, or Mayor of any town. He was also empowered to grant to the inhabitants lands and
* This summary jurisdiction was exercised after the conquest of Canada, by the English commandants, sometimes without discretion. We have before us the record of a cause, which was tried under the direction of Governor Hamilton, in 1776, at Detroit, in the plainest violation of established principles of law. For this act, a warrant was issued against Hamilton, and ihe Justice who tried the cause, by the agency of Lord Dorchester at Quebec; but they both fled the country. It was a capital cause, and the convicted person was executed. | La Hontan's Voyages. VOL. XLVI. — NO. 99.