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recognition of his ability and fidelity he was appointed Surveyor-General of the
Southern Ports on the Continent of America. In this office he was named as his prede-
cessors had been, a member of the Councils of the American Colonies. This mandate
was recognized by Governor Gooch of Virginia, but the claim was resisted by the
Councillors, who refused to allow him to sit with them and transmitted a remonstrance
to the King, asking for his exclusion. The Board of Trade in May, 1742, advised that
the royal purpose should be adhered to in the matter. He was specially commissioned,
August 17, 1743, Inspector-General to examine into the duties and the collection of
customs of the Island of Barbadoes and discovered flagrant frauds. He was appointed
as Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, July 20, 1751, and on his arrival in November fol-
lowing, was warmly welcomed by the State officials. Under his administration the
attempt was begun to expel the French from the head of the Ohio Valley, at Fort
Duquesne. He was a zealous and vigilant officer and early discerned the capabilities of
George Washington, whom he appointed Adjutant-General of a military district He



4'Xife and Writings of Washington;" Vol. I, p. 90L



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WASHINGTON AND GIST; EMISSARY AND GUIDE 237

was a Loyalist of the sternest stamp. In 1754 he suggested to the British Board ol
Trade, taxation of the Colonies to raise funds for military defenses and in 1755 was
one of the five Lieutenant-Governors who memorialized the Ministry to the same pur«
pose. He left the Colony in 1758, worn out with vexation, with the cares of office and
with age. He was very meddlesome in military affairs and seemed at times ungenerous
enough to be jealous of the popularity of Washington, which left an unpleasant memory
behind him. (Drake, also Brock, in the Dinwiddle Papers).

The narrative of events leading up to the mission of Washington
have been told in detail by all historians. Some quotations from old
writers are pertinent as showing how the course of events was viewed
at the time. First of all we have Tobias Smollet, more famous as a
novelist than a historian, who wrote as follows :

Governor Spotswood's sdieme for an Ohio company was revived immediately after
the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle ; when certain merchants of London who traded to Mary-
land and Virginia petitioned the government of this subject, and were indulged not
only a grant of a great tract of ground to the southward of Pennsylvania, which they
promised to settle, but also with an exclusive privilege of trading with the Indians on
the banks of the river Ohio. This design no sooner transpired than the French gov-
ernor of Canada took the alarm, and wrote letters to the governors of New York and
Pennsylvania, giving them to understand that as the English inland traders had
encroached on the French territories and privileges, by trading with the Indians under
the protection of his sovereign, he would seize them wherever they could be found, if
they did not immediately desist from that illicit practice. No regard being paid to this
intimation, he next year caused three British traders to be arrested. Their effects were
confiscated, and they themselves conveyed to Quebec, from whence they were sent
prisoners to Rochelle in France, and there detained in confinement In this situation
they presented a remonstrance to the Earl of Albemarle, at that time English ambassa-
dor in Paris, and he claiming them as British subjects, they were set at liberty.
Although, in answer to his lordship's memorial, the court of Versailles promised to
transmit orders to the French governors in America to use all their endeavours for
preventing any disputes that might have a tendency to alter the good correspondence
established between the two nations ; in all probability the directions given were seem-
ingly the very reverse of these professions, for the French commanders, partisans, and
agents in America, took every step their busy genius could suggest, to strengthen their
own power and weaken the influence of the English, by embroiling them with the
Indian nations. This task they found the more easy, as the natives had taken offence
against the English, when they understood that their lands were given away without
their knowledge, and that there was a design to build forts in their country, without
their consent and concurrence. Indeed the person whom the new company employed
to survey the banks of the Ohio concealed his design so carefully, and behaved in
other respects in such a dark, mysterious manner, as could not fail to arouse the jeal-
ousy of a people naturally inquisitive, and very much addicted to suspicion. How the
company proposed to settle this acquisition in despite of the native possessors it is not
easy to conceive, and it is still more unaccountable that they should have neglected the
natives, whose consent and assistance they might have procured at a very small expense.
Instead of acting such a fair, open, and honorable part, they sent a Mr. Gist to make a
clandestine survey of the country, as far as the falls of the river Ohio ; and as we have
observed above, his conduct alarmed both the French and the Indians. The erection
of this company was equally disagreeable to the separate traders of Virginia and
Pennsylvania, who saw themselves on the eve of being deprived of a valuable branch of
traffic, by the exclusive character of a monopoly; and therefore they employed their
emissaries to foment the jealousy of the Indians.

The French having in a manner commenced hostilities against the English, and
actually built forts on the territories of the British allies at Niagara, and on the lake
Erie, Mr. Hamilton, governor of Pennsylvania, conmiunicated this intelligence to the
assembly of the province, and represented the necessity of erecting truck-houses, or



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238 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

places of strength and security, on the river Ohio, to which the traders might retire in
case of insult or molestation. The proposal was approved, and money granted for the
purpose; but the assembly could not agree about the manner in whidi they should be
erected ; and in the meantime the French fortified themselves at leisure, continuing to
harrass the traders belonging to the British settlements. Repeated complaints of these
encroachments and depredations being represented to Mr. Dinwiddie, governor of Vir-
ginia, he, towards the latter end of this year sent Major Washington with a letter to
the commanding officer of a fort which the French built on the Riviere-au-Beuf, which
falls into the Ohio, not far from Lake Erie. In this letter Mr. Dinwiddie expressed his
surprise that the French should build forts and make settlements on the river Ohio, in
the western part of the colony of Virginia, belonging to the crown of Great Britain.
He complained of these encroachments, as well as of the injuries done to the subjects
of Great Britain, in open violation of the law of nations, and of the treaties actually
subsisting between the two crowns. He desired to know by whose authority and
instructions his Britannic majesty's territories had been invaded; and required him to
depart in peace, without further prosecuting a plan which must interrupt the harmony
and good understanding which his Majesty was desirous to continue and cultivate with
the most Christian king. To this spirited intimation the officer replied, that it was not
his province to specify the evidence, and demonstrate the right of the king his master
to the lands situated on the river Ohio ; but he would transmit the letter to the Mar-
quis du Quesne, and act according to the answer he should receive from that nobleman.
In the meantime, he said he did not think himself obliged to obey the summons of the
English governor; that he commanded the fort by the virtue of an order from his
general, to which he was determined to conform with all the precision and resolution
of an officer. Mr. Dinwiddie expected no other reply, and therefore had projected a
fort to be erected near the forks of the river. The pro\^nce undertook to defray the
expense, and the stores for that purpose were already provided; but, by some fatal
oversight, the concurrence of the Indians was neither obtained nor solicited, and,
therefore, they looked upon this measure with an evil eye, as a manifest invasion of
their property.*

Next is an account from Irving's "Life of Washington," paraphrased
somewhat, but a lucid and complete story leading up to the selection of
Washington as Dinwiddie's envoy. In short, Irving relates :

The meeting of the Ohio Tribes, Delawares, Shawnees and Mingoes, to form a
treaty of alliance with Virginia, took place at Logstown, at an appointed time. The
chiefs of the Six Nations declined to attend. "It is not our custom," said they proudly,
"to meet to treat of affairs in the woods and weeds. If the Governor of Virginia wants
to speak with us, and deliver us a present from our father (the King) we will meet him
at Albany, where we expect the Governor of New York will be present." At Logs-
town, Colonel Fry and two other commissioners from Virginia concluded a treaty with
the tribes above named ; by which the latter engaged not to molest any English settlers
south of the Ohio.

French influence, however, was successful in other quarters. Some of the Indians
who had been friendly to the English showed signs of alienation. Others menaced hos-
tilities. There were reports that the French were ascending the Mississippi from
Louisiana. France, it was said, intended to connect Louisiana and Canada by a
chain of military posts, and hem the English within the Allegheny mountains. The
Ohio Company complained loudly to the Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, the Hon.
Robert Dinwiddie, of the hostile conduct of the French and their Indian allies. They
found in Dinwiddie a ready listener; he was a stockholder in the company. A com-
missioner. Captain William Trent, was sent to expostulate with the French commander
on the Ohio for his aggressions on the territory of his Britannic majesty ; he bore pres-
ents also of guns, powder, shot and clothing for the friendly Indians. Trent was not a
man of the true spirit for a mission to the frontier. He stopped a short time at Logs-
town, though the French were one hundred strong and fifty miles further up the river,



^''History of England;" T. Smollet, VoL II, pp. 116-1x9.



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WASHINGTON AND GIST; EMISSARY AND GUIDE 239

and directed his course to Piqua, the great town of the Twlghtwees, where Gist and
Croghan had been so well received by the Miamis, and the French flag struck in the
council house.

All was now reversed. The place had been attacked by the French and Indians,
the Miamis defeated with great loss; the English traders taken prisoners; the Pian-
kesha chief had been sacrificed by the hostile savages, and the French flag hoisted in
triumph on the ruins of the town. The whole aspect of affairs was so threatening on
the frontier, that Trent lost heart, and returned home without accomplishing his errand.

Governor Dinwiddie now looked round for a person more fitted to fulfill a mis-
sion which required physical strength and moral energy; a courage to cope with sav-
ages, and a sagacity to negotiate with white men. Washington was pointed out as
possessed of those requisites. It is true he was not yet twenty-two years of age, but
public confidence in his judgment and abilities had been manifested a second time, by
renewing his appointment of adjutant-general, and assigning him the northern division.
He was acquainted, too, with the matters in litigation, having been in the bosom councils
of his deceased brother. His woodland experience fitted him for an expedition through
the wilderness ; and his great discretion and self-command for a negotiation with wily
commanders and fickle savages. He was accordingly chosen for the expedition.^^

In a judicial resume of the events that led to the despatch of Wash-
ington to the French forts, Chief Justice Marshall says :

The governors of Canada, who were generally military men, had, for several pre-
ceding years, judiciously selected and fortified such situations, as would give their
nation most influence with the Indians, and best facilitate incursions into the northern
provinces. The command of Lake Champlain had been acquired by erecting a strong fort
at Crown Point; and a connected chain of posts was maintained from Quebec up the
St Lawrence and along the great lakes. It was now intended to unite these posts with
the Mississippi by taking positions and, at the same time, to annoy the frontier settle-
ments of the English.

The execution of this plan was probably in some degree accelerated by an act of
the British government. The year after the conclusion of the war,. several very influ-
ential persons, both in England and Virginia, who associated under the name of the
Ohio Company, obtained from the crown a grant for six hundred thousand acres of
land lying in the country claimed by both nations. Several opulent merchants, as well
as noblemen and gentlemen, being members of this company, its objects were commer-
cial as well as territorial; and measures were immediately taken to derive all the
advantages expected from their grant, in both respects, by establishing houses for
carrying on their trade with the Indians and engaging persons to survey the country for
the purpose of enabling them to complete their quantity out of the most valuable and
convenient lands.

The governor of Canada, who obtained early intelligence of this intrusion as he
deemed it, into the dominions of his Christian majesty, wrote immediately to the gov-
ernors of New York and Pennsylvania, informing them that the English traders had
encroached on the French territories by trading with their Indians, and warning them
that, if they did not desist, he should be under the necessity of seizing them wherever
they should be found. At the same time the jealousy of the Indians was excited, and
fears instilled into them, that the English were about to deprive them of their country.
This jealousy was kept up by the traders of Pennsylvania, who were apprehensive that
the Ohio Company would transfer to the Potomac by the way of Will's creek, a gainful
traffic confined, in a great degree, to their colony, and who, on that account, communi-
cated to the Indians the object for which the Ohio was visited by the English, an object
which the agents of the company had sought carefully to conceal, by making their sur-
vey as secretly as possible.

The threat of the governor of Canada having been entirely disregarded, he put it
in execution by seizing the British traders among the Twightwees, and carrying them
as prisoners to Presqu' Isle on Lake Erie, where a strong fort was then erecting.



«"Life of Washington;" Washington Irving, New York, 1855, Vol. I, Chap. VIII.



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240 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

The attempt of the English to prosecute a trade with the Indians could not be the
real motive for this act of violence, as neither nation pretended to an exclusive right
to this trade and the treaty of Utrecht had expressly stipulated for its freedom. But
the advances made by the English towards a settlement of the country, threatened to
break in upon the vast and magnificent plans of France, and was consequently to be
prevented at every hazard. Not only, therefore, were the English traders seized, but a
communication was opened from the fort at Presqu' Isle, down French credc and the
Allegheny river, to the Ohio; which was kept up by detachments of troops, posted at
proper distances from each other, and secured by works which would cover them from
an attack made only with small arms.

This country having been actually granted as a part of the territory of Virginia to
the Ohio Company, who were commencing its settlements and who complained loudly
of these aggressions, Dinwiddie, the lieutenant-governor of that province, considering
this encroachment as an invasion of a colony, the interests of which were committed to
him, laid the subject before the assembly, and dispatched Major Washington, the gen-
tleman who afterwards led his countrsrmen to independence and to empire, of whom
high expectations were already formed, with a letter to the commandant of the French
forces on the Ohio, requiring him to withdraw from the dominions of his Britannic
majesty.7

Dinwiddie gave Washington explicit instructions, a commission and
a passport These read as follows:

Ikstructions for Gkorg^ Washington

Whcrsas, I have received information of a body of French forces being assembled
in a hostile manner on the river Ohio, intending by force of arms to erect certam forts
on the said river within this territory, and contrary to the dignity and peace of our
sovereign the King of Great Britain ;

These are therefore, to require and direct you, the said George Washington, forth-
with to repair to Logstown on the said river Ohio; and, having there informed your-
self where the said French forces have posted themselves, thereupon to proceed to such
place ; and, being there arrived, to present your credentials, together with my letter to
the chief commanding officer, and in the name of his Britannic Majesty to demand an
answer thereto.

On your arrival at Logstown you are to address yourself to the Half-King, to
Monacatoocha, and other the sachems of the Six Nations, acquainting them with your
orders to visit and deliver my letter to the French commanding officer, and desiring
the said chiefs to appoint you a sufficient number of their warriors to be your safeguard,
as near the French as you may desire, and to wait your further direction.

You are diligently to inquire into the numbers and force of the Frendi on the
Ohio, and the adjacent country; how they are likely to be assisted from Canada; and
what are the difficulties and conveniences of that communication, and the time required
for it.

You are to take care to be truly informed what forts the French have erected,
and where; how they are garrisoned, and appointed, and what is their distance from
each other, and from Logstown; and from the best intelligence you can proctUY, you
are to learn what gave occasion to this expedition of the French; how they are likely
to be supported, and what their pretensions are.

When the French commandant has given you the required and necessary dispatches,
you are to desire of him proper guard to protect you as far on your return, as you may
judge for your safety, against any straggling Indians or hunters, that may be ignorant
of your character, and molest you.

Wishing you good success in your negotiation, and a safe and speedy return, I am,

ROB8RT DiNWIDDlS.

Williamsburgh, October 30, 1753.



7"Lif e of George Washington, etc ;" by John Marshall, 1804, VoL I, p. 374.



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WASHINGTON AND GIST; EMISSARY AND GUIDE 241

To GaoRCS Washington, Esquibs, One of the Adjutants-General of the Troops
AND Forces in the Coi^ony of Virginia.

I, reposing especial trust and confidence in the ability, conduct, and fidelity of you,
the said George Washington, have appointed you my express messenger; and you are
hereby authorized and empowered to proceed hence, with all convenient and possible dis-
patch, to that place or part, on the river Ohio, where the French have lately erected a
fort or forts, or where the commandant of the French forces resides, in order to deliver
my letter and message to him; and after waiting not exceeding one week for an
answer, you are to take your leave and return immediately back.

To this commission I have set my hand, and caused the great seal of this Dominion
to be affixed, at the city of Williamsburgh, the seat of the Government, this 30th day of
October, in the twenty-seventh year of tfie reign of his Majesty George the Second,
King of Great Britain, annoque Domini, 1753. Robert Dinwiddie,

To All Whom These Presents May Come or Concern, Greeting.

Whereas, I have appointed George Washington, Esquire, by the commission under
the great seal, my express messenger to the commandant of the French forces on the
river Ohio, and as he is charged with business of great importance to his Majesty and
this Dominion;

I do hereby command all his Majesty's subjects, and particularly require all in
alliance and amity with the crown of Great Britain, and all others to whom this pass-
port may come, agreeably to the law of nations, to be aiding and assisting as a safe-
guard to the said George Washington and his attendants, in his present passage, to and
from the river Ohio as foresaid. Robert Dinwiddie.

To THE Lords of the Board of Trade.

Williamsburgh, Virginia, November 17, 1753.
Right Honorable :

My last to you was on the i6th of June, to which I beg you to be referred. In that
I acquainted you if the accounts we have had of the French, with the Indians in their
interest, invading his Majesty's lands on the river of the Ohio.

The person sent as a commissioner to the commandant of the French forces neg-
lected his duty, and went no further than Logstown on the Ohio. He reports the
French were then one hundred and fifty miles further up the river, and I believe was
afraid to go to them. On the application of the Indians in friendship with us on the
Ohio, I sent Mr. William Trent, with guns, powder, and shot, to them, with some
clothing; and enclosed I send you his report and conferences with the people, on his
delivering them the present.

I have received, by a man-of-war sloop, orders from the Right Honorable Earl of
Holdemesse, and instructions from his Majesty. In consequence I have thereof sent one
of the adjutants of the militia out to the commander of the French forces, to know their
intentions and by what authority they presume to invade his Majesty's dominions in
the time of tranquil peace. When he returns I shall transmit you an account of his
proceedings, and the French commander's answer.

Your Lordship's, etc,

Robert Dinwiddie.^

Rupp justly remarks in his introductory paragraph (p. 37): "We
insert the whole of this Journal, containing as it does, an interesting
account of the whole journey from Williamsburg and return, and all
the events in clear and concise manner. All who have told of Washing-
ton's mission have derived their facts from Washington and Gist as

8These "Instructions," etc., Rupp has included in an appendix to his "History of
Western Pennsylvania and the West;" sec App. VI, pp. 34-37. "Washington's Jour-
nal" of 1753 follows; pp. 37-5a The "Instructions" and "Journal" are in "Sparks'
Washington," Vol. I, pp. 427-447.

Pitta.— 16



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242 HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH

they recorded at the time. Writers like Parkman have given their im-
agination full swing, and with the magic of fitting words have drawn a
picture that stands out full and clear. Evidently a strange sight broke
upon Joncaire and as strange a one upon St. Pierre. In his inimitable
manner Parkman presents this picture:

The surrounding forests had dropped their leaves, and in gray and patient desola-
• tion bided the coming winter. Chill rains drizzled over the gloomy "clearing" and
drenched the palisades and log-built barracks, raw from the axe. Buried in the wilder-
ness, the military exiles [Legardeur St Pierre and his garrison] resigned themselves as
they might to months of monotonous solitude; when, just after sunset on the eleventh
day of December, a tall youth came out of the forest on horesback, attended by a com-
panion much older and rougher than himself, and followed by several Indians and four
or five white men with packhorses. Officers from the fort went out to meet the strang-
ers; and, wading through mud and sodden snow, they entered at the gate. On the
next day the young leader of the party, with the help of an interpreter, for he spoke no
French [a deficiency which he laments with greatest regret later in life] had an inter-
view with the commandant and gave him a letter from Governor Dinwiddie. St.
Pierre and the officer next in rank, who knew a little English, took' it to another room to
study it at their ease; and in it, all unconsciously, they read a name destined to stand
one of the noblest in the annals of mankind, for it introduced Major George Washington,
Adjutant-General of the Virginia Militia.®

Major Washington's Journal of a Tour Over ths Allegheny Mountains.

I was commissioned and appointed by the Honorable Robert Dinwiddie, Esq.,
Governor of Virginia, to visit and deliver a letter to the commander of the French



Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 32 of 81)