Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Ch. 10: Fifty Years of Fools and Heroes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Hawthorne