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" It is, as it is managed, a jobb, calculated rather to put
money in the pockets of those who have the management
of the business than for any service to the publick."

And again he dilates on the fatal consequences to be
apprehended from the loss of Oswego, declaring that it
would be followed by the loss of the fur trade, and proba-
bly by the defection of the Six Nations. All this time, it
will be understood, the French and English were at peace ;
but there were signs of war, and each was jealous of the
other, and su.spicious lest a sudden outbreak should put
some important post into the enemy's hands.

At this time the French had two or three sailing-vessels
on Lake Ontario, armed with light cannon, while the Eng-
lish had nothing larger than the bateaux of their traders.

The only remaining relics of British occupancy at this
period are two stones, now in the Oswego city library.
One is a grave-stone, carefully lettered " Roger Corbett,
1742." On the other is rudely scrawled " Crannell, 1745."
It is doubtless also a grave-stone, though it has been sup-
posed by some to have marked the building of Fort
Ontario. But that fort was certainly not built until 1755.
The last-mentioned stone was taken from the fort and used
in the construction of the first court-house at Oswego, and
on the demolition of that building was placed in the library.

In the year 1743, William Johnson, afterwards the cele-
brated Sir William Johnson, but then only a prosperous
Indian trader in the Mohawk valley, became interested in
the fur-trade at Oswego.

In March, 1744, war was declared between France and
Great Britain. No sooner did the report of this event

reach Oswego than the traders there were filled with terror
at the prospect of a French and Indian attack. Putting
no trust in the dilapidated fort and scanty garrison, nor in
their own valor, most of them prepared for instant flight.
A few adventurous spirits remained ; to these the majority
sold such goods as they could, and departed with the rest
for Albany. Indians coming from the far west to trade at
Oswego, as they had done for years, found little or nothing
for which to exchange their furs, and departed in disgust.

George Clinton, then colonial governor of New York,
but not a member of the Clinton family afterwards so cele-
brated in State politics, immediately did what he could to
strengthen Oswego. He sent six cannon thither, and called
a council of the Six Nations at Albany to engage them to
help defend the threatened post. They gave a half promise
to that effect, but insinuated that Oswego was not as valu-
able to them as formerly, because goods had not of late
been as cheap as they once had. In truth, the Six Nations
were very much (and very sensibly) disposed to remain
neutral, and let the English and French fight their own

Lieutenant John Lindsay, the founder of the Cherry
Valley settlement, was appointed commander of the post at
this time, and held the position for five years afterwards.

In the spring of 1745 one of the officers of the garrison,
a young lieutenant named Butler, afterwards the too-cele-
brated Colonel John Butler, of detested memory, wrote from
that point that fifteen hundred men, besides Indians, were
reported to be organizing in Canada for the purpose of
attacking Oswego. If any such movement was contem-
plated it was certainly abandoned.

In June an Onondaga chief, bearing the historic name
of " The Black Prince," attended by a hundred men, women,
and children of that nation, went down to Oswego on his
way to visit Canada, on the invitation of the governor-
general. Conrad Weiser, an interpreter, who accompanied
him as far as Oswego, has left an account of what transpired,
which is so characteristic of Indian parleys as to be worth

On their arrival they saluted the fort with two volleys
from their muskets, which were duly returned. After land-
ing, the warriors went in a body to visit the officers. One
of the first proceedings on the part of the latter was to fur-
nish the noble visitors with a dram apiece. Presently the
Black Prince asked for another dram all around to drink
the king's health. It was given. Very soon he requested
another dram to drink the governor's health, and this too
was furnished. Then the red men seated themselves upon
their haunches and began smoking and talking. They
wanted to know all about the war, and especially about its
probable results. They said they were going to Canada to
make arrangements whereby the house at Oswego should
not be attacked by the French. Finally they wanted the
officers to give them some food. As the latter had been
treating them pretty freely, and liquor was two dollars a
gallon, they hesitated at this fresh demand. Finally, how-
ever, they hunted up three bags of peas, a few loaves of
bread, and thirty pounds of pork, which they presented to
their guests. They appeared well pleased with the gift, but
among themselves they grumbled much at the covetousness


of the Englishmen. The next da}' they came again to the
fort, wlien the interpreter himself treated them with a dram
apiece, and gave them a two-gallon cask of licjuor to drink
the health of the king and queen at Montreal. As Weiscr
then returned to Onondaga, it is very doubtful whether the
cask remained unbroached until the Black Prince and his
companions reached the capital of Canada.

The oflBcers seem to have made no effort to prevent the
Indians from vi-siting the French, even in time of war,
which shows that the English claims of sovereignty over
the Six Nations were not considered as involving much
active control. In fact, the Six Nations remained substan-
tially neutral thoughout the conflict which raged from 17-14
to 1748, though perhaps occasionally a small party went
upon the war-path.

In 1745, William Johnson, the successful fur-trader be-
fore mentioned, was commissioned colonel of the New York
militia, and in 1746 he was appointed superintendent of
Indian affairs for the Six Nations. He was also about the
same time selected as contractor to supply the troops at
Oswego, on condition that he should receive no higher
prices during the war than had been paid in time of peace.
This was the first appearance in public aflfiurs of one who,
until the day of his death, nearly thirty years later, exercised
an immense influence in the colony of New York. A coarse-
minded, uncultured man, but energetic, clear-headed, and
fair-dealing, he was well fitted to manage the rude warriors
and scarcely less rude frontiersmen with whom he was con-
stantly brought in contact. He had already made himself
a great favorite with the Mohawks, who looked up to him
as a father (as many of the children had a right to do), and
he soon acquired almost as great an influence over the other
Iroquois tribes. They called him Warragiyagltey (which
is supposed to mean chief manager), and probably deferred
more to him than to any other man they ever knew, not
excepting their own most powerful chiefs.

The next year, although Oswego was still unattacked, the
road from the Mohawk valley thither was infested by small
parties of the enemy, and the post was thought to be in
considerable danger. Governor Clinton and Colonel Johnson
relieved it in June, .sending thither Lieutenant Visschcr and
a company of men, with a supply of goods, provisions, and
ammunition. The next year (1748), Johnson declared he
could no longer supply the post for two hundred pounds
($500) per annum, and the assembly voted him two hun-
dred pounds extra, — no extravagant allowance for a post on
which depended to a great extent the welfare of the colony.

As the French still made no movement on this side of
the lake, the traders began to be desirous to obtain again
some of their old profits. Not yet daring to go to Oswego,
they congregated in numbers on the road thither, trading
what they could with the Six Nations, and anxiously look-
ing for an opportunity to resume business with the fur
Indians. Fortunately for them, the peace of Aix-la-Cha-
pelle, in 1748, removed the barrier, and the mouth of the
Oswego was soon alive again with traders' bateaux and
Indian canoes. Again the shores were gay with plumed
warriors from Miami and Michilimackinac, as well as stal-
wart Iroquois from their nearer homes, while scalp-decorated
braves and submissive squaws alike .stood in open-mouthed

admiration before the gaudy blankets and silver jewelry
displayed by tlie sturdy Dutch traders.

Tliere was even a considerable commerce carried on with
the French of Canada, who could buy goods so much
cheaper of the English than of their own merchants that
they were willing to run the risk attendant on illicit trade.
But even while they bought they scowled with envy at the
thought that the hated English were the possessors of all-
important " Chouegucn."

The feeling of the French was well cxjires.«ed by the
Abbe Piequet, the head of the colony of Catliolic Iroquois
at La Presentation (now Ogdensburgh), who made a tour
of Lake Ontario at a little later date. He declared Choue-
gucn to be " a post the most pernicious to France that the
English could erect." lie expressed a strong desire for its
destruction, and calculated how easily two batteries of
three twelve-pounders each would reduce it to ruins. Yet
he was obliged to admit that the English and Dutch sold
goods there to the Indians for less than a fourth of the
price, in furs, which the French charged at Niagara, an
advantage which was not counterbalanced by the fact that
the red men preferred French brandy to English.

Soon after the war Captain Lindsay resigned his military
position, and became Indian agent and commi.ssary. which
oflBces he held until his death, in 1751.

There is a tradition, and a quite probable one, that about
1750 a small mill was built at Oswego falls to grind corn
for the traders, the garrison, and those Indians whose
palates were sufficiently educated to prefer meal to samp.
In the year last named the Oswego garrison (which was a
colonial force, not a part of the Biitish army) threatened
to disband for lack of pay. The money was probably sup-
plied, as there was no outbreak. About the same time
Superintendent Johnson got into trouble with the colonial
assembly. He claimed much more than they had allowed
him for provisions and goods sent to Oswego. They, in
turn, accused him of charging for articles not sent. John-
son resigned his superintendency, but was immediately
afterwards appointed to a seat in the executive council by
Governor Clinton, with whom he was a great favorite.
With all his faults, Johnson's character, acquired during a
long and active life, was not that of dishonesty, and tlie
probability is that the assembly was merely seeking an
excuse for not paying the public debts.

The Sis Nations were much disturbed at the rcsignatii)n
of their beloved Warragiyaghcy, and in 1751 formally re-
quested his reinstatement; "for," said their spokesman, the
celebrated King Ilendrick, ■' he has large ears, and hears a
great deal, and what he hears he tells to us. He has also large
eyes, and sees a great way, and conceals nothing from us."

But in spite of these compliments Johnson refused to re-
assume the po.sition. He declared that he had advanced
for the Indian department and for suj)plying Oswego up to
the close of 1748 no less than seven thousand one hundred
and seventy-seven pounds (about eighteen thousand dollars,
an immense sum for those days), of which only five thou-
sand eight hundred and one pounds had been even voted to
him, and two thousand four hundred and one pounds of that
amount remained unpaid, although he believed the " Oswego
duties" to be sufficient for the purpose. These duties ap-


pear to have been a tax levied on all goods sold at or sent
through Oswego. Since 1748 he had advanced five hun-
dred and ninety-five pounds, at the governor's request, for
the same purposes, which was still unpaid. As he made no
charge for his personal services, he insisted that he could not
aiford to hold so unprofitable an ofiice. Several commis-
sioners of Indian affiiirs were appointed in his place-
Most of the statements relating to Sir William Johnson
are taken from his " Life and Times," by William L. Stone.
The work in question is strongly colored in favor of the
baronet, but we have taken pains to compare it with other
accounts, and to get at the facts as accurately as possible.

The ex-superintendent still prosecuted a lucrative trade
with Oswego, and his own interests, if nothing else, im-
pelled him to keep vigilant watch over French intrigues.
Learning that the Jesuits had persuaded many of the
Onomlagas to consent to the establishment of a military
and missionary station on Oneida lake, Johnson summoned
the Onondaga and Oneida chiefs together and purchased
the lake and a strip of laud two miles in width clear around
it for three hundred and fifty pounds. He off'ered it to
the colonial government at the price he paid, but they re-
fused to take it. As an unconfirmed Indian title was never
considered valid, he had but little to show for his money.

There was almost always a conflict going on betwixt the
colonial governor and his council on one side and the
assembly on the other. In this year (1751) the council
pa.ssed a bill applying five hundred pounds to the repair of
Oswego and the conduct of Indian affairs, but the assem-
bly voted this passage of a " money bill" by the upper
house a high breach of privilege, and were soon after dis-
solved. Before that occurred, however, their attention was
called to another Oswego matter. They called for an
account from the commissioners of the Oswego duties.
John Be Peyster, one of their number, sent in a return,
showing the collection of eleven hundred and forty-five
pounds for the four years closing with September, 1750.
His report for 1751 was nine hundred and forty pounds.
Johnson wrote to Clinton that there was some " cursed vil-
lainy" about the Oswego duties, but that it would be hard
to ferret it out. He asserted that De Peyster had admitted
receiving over one thousand pounds in 1749, immediately
after the war, and that the remaining one hundred and
forty-five pounds would by no means cover the receipts of
1750, to say nothing of the smaller sums collected during
the two last years of the war. From all the circumstances it
seems cjuite certain that the duties would average some
twenty-five hundred dollars per year.

In 1752 the assembly finally provided for rebuilding the
post at Oswego, which was said to be in a ruinous condi-
tion. The next year there began to be serious apprehen-
sions of further difiiculties with France. Strange as it
may seem, notwithstanding all the wars which had raged,
and all the treaties which had been made between France
and England since they had founded colonics in America,
no definite boundary lines had been agreed upon between
their respective possessions on that continent. It seemed as
if at every treaty each nation hoped that the fortunes of
peace or war would give it a larger slice of American terri-
tory than it could then lay claim to. In peace-thc English

colonies increased in population with ten times the rapidity
of the French, but the latter were much the more enter-
prising in establishing posts in the wilderness.

At this time they were taking measures to form a line of
forts from their possessions in Canada to those in Louisiana.
In May of the year last mentioned. Captain Stoddard and
Lieutenant Holland, two ofiicers of the Oswego garrison,
wrote to Governor Clinton that thirty French canoes and
five hundred Indians, under the celebrated partisan leader,
Monsieur Marin, had passed that post on their way to the
Ohio. There were rumors of still larger forces moving in
the same direction. The New York authorities appro-
priated a considerable sum in presents to keep the Six
Nations in good humor, and the governor, council, and
assembly all agreed that Colonel Johnson was the fittest man
for commissioner to distribute the goods among the Indians.
In this year, too, the colonial government, according to
Stone, confirmed Colonel Johnson's purchase, noted a short
distance back, at least so far as the land was concerned, and
in accordance with it granted him a strip two miles wide ex-
tending the whole circuit of Oneida lake. This, of course,
included a portion of the present towns of Constantia, West
Monroe, and Hastings, and Sir William Johnson was con-
sequently the first legal landholder in the present county of
Oswego. If such was the case the land must have descended
to Sir John Johnson, and have been confiscated with the rest
of his property on his joining the British during the Revo-



Hostilities in 1754 — Oswego in Danger — Braddock and Shirley — Ex-
pedition against Niagara — First Englisli Sliip on Lal^e Ontario —
Siiirley's Advance — Braddock's Defeat — Shirley's Expedition
Abandoned — Fort Ontario and Fort George — Omens of Disaster —
De Montcalm and Loudon — Attacking the Communications — Brad-
street's Bateau-Men— Dc Villiers on the Watch— The Conqueror
of Washington— A Bloody Surprise— A Skirmish by the River-
War Declared— De Villiers attacks Ontario— The Ambuscade fails
—"Corsairs" on the Lake — Bradstreet with Supplies — Philip
Schuyler— The Battle of Battle Island— Schuyler's Humanity—
De Villiers Defeated— British Blunders— De Montcalm's Vigilance
— From Charaplain to Ontario— The Stealthy Approach- The Sud-
den Appearance — Opening Fire — The English Force — French
Artillery landed — Opening the Trenches — Ontario Abandoned —
Crossing the Oswego — Mercer Killed— Littlehales Frightened —
Oswego Surrendered — The Losses — The Massacre — French Evi-
dence—A Curious Adventure— The Forts Destroyed— Brilliancy of
the Victory— Runaway Webb— A Quiet Year— Pitt to the Front—
Bradstreet and Schuyler on the Wing— Quick Ship-Building —
Capture of Frontenac- A Fort at the Falls- One at Three Rivers
Point— The Culminating Struggle of 1759— A French Rcconnois-
sancc— An English Army— The Six Nations in the Field— On to
Niagara — Another Attack — A Barricade of Barrels — A Warlike
Priest— Defeat of De la Come— Niagara Captured— Lively Times
— The First Duel— Rebuilding Fort Ontario— Building Fort Brew-
erton— Ancient Relics— Capture of Quebec— The Final Rally—
The Main Army at Oswego — Distinguished Personages — Amherst
and Gage — Johnson, Bradstreet, and Putnam — The Grand Em-
barkation — Surrender of Canada — End of the War.

In 1754 hostilities actually began on the frontiers of
Pennsylvania and Virginia, though without any formal



doclaration of war. Tlio Xcw York assembly took the
alarm and voted some lliirteoii hiiiidred dollars to pay for
repairs at Oswego, and for doubling tlio garrison. It should
be remembered that a dollar would probably go nearly as
far then as five will now, so that the amounts voted from
time to time for that important post were really not a.s
small as they look. The year passed without any events of
importance in this vicinity, but in 1755 the tide of war
set strongly towards Lake Ontario. Y^et, while the work of
slaughter was raging all along the frontier, England and
France were still nominally at peace. There was merely a
little dispute about boundaries going on in America.

In February, 1755, acting governor De Lancey informed
the assembly that Oswego was in great danger through want
of provisions, as Colonel Johnson had refused to furnish
any more until his old debts should have been paid. The
urgency was so great that the necessary arrangements were
soon made.

Early in the spring the sadly- celebrated General Brad-
dock arrived in America, bearing the king's commission as
commander-in-chief of all the British forces on the conti-
tinent. His second in command was William Shirley, gov-
ernor of Massachusetts, a man of decided genius, to whom
was principally due the brilliant capture of Louisburg, ten
years before, but who was more successful in devising plans
than in carrying them out.

Braddock convened a council of the provisional gover-
nors at Alexandria, Virginia, to concert methods of driving
back the French. The keen-eyed Shirley saw at once that
by sending a force, by way of Oswego, to capture Fort
Niagara, and by building vessels which should gain posses-
sion of Lake Ontario, not only Duquesne but all the other
western forts would be cut off from their communications
and the whole French system broken in pieces. Braddock,
however, determined to march directly against Duquesne
with nearly all the regulars, and it is said that his orders
compelled him to do so. Colonel Johnson, now appointed
major-general and superintendent of Indian affairs by Brad-
dock, was directed to organize an expedition against Crown
Point, while the operations on Lake Ontario, the key of
the whole frontier, were intrusted to Governor Shirley.

That energetic commander .sent forward two Albany in-
dependent companies and two companies of Sir William
Pepperell's* regiment to strengthen Oswego while he was
organizing his forces, and directed the immediate beginning
of a Lake Ontario navy, by the construction of a small
schooner at that point. This schooner, of forty feet keel,
propelled by sweeps as well as sails, and armed with twelve
swivels, was launched on the 28th of June following, and
was the first English vessel on Lake Ontario.

Meanwhile, Shirley gathered some three hundred more
ship-carpenters, whom he sent to Oswego in June to build
vessels enough to command the lake and convey his army

*■ Sir William Peppcrell, lieutenant-general in his majesty's ser-
vice, was born in Maine, and was bred a merehant. He rose to the
lii^hest military honors. The king, in reward of his services, con-
ferred upon him the dignity of a baronet, an honor never before, or
since, conferred upon a native of New England. He died at his seat
m Kittcry, Maine, 1759, aged si.vty-thrce years.— /'o(fer'« //lilu.i/
luiil Antiq,iitk» of tin- Nurlhen, ,S'(,

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