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property. This McKenzie refused to do, well -knowing
that he was safer there than outside, as Indians never
like to fight in camp among women and children.
There the stubborn men remained, surrounded by a
hundred armed warriors to each one of them, until
nearly all the stolen property was returned them,
when they marched away with it in triumph. The
Nez Perces then retaliated by refusing to sell McKen-
zie horses. They even withdrew from the vicinity,
and ceased to supply food. Nothing daunted, Mc-
Kenzie determined that rather than starve he would
make his own bargains. So whenever the camp re-
quired meat he tied up in a bundle the full price of a
horse, and then proceeded to shoot the animal and
bring away the meat, leaving the price on a stake at
the head of the carcass. Finally, to get rid of him,
the Xez Perces sold McKenzie all the horses he
required at fair prices.

Despatching Peed with McDougall's letters to
Clarke and Stuart, McKenzie set out for the rendez-
vous at Walla Walla. Clarke and Stuart soon fol-
lowed. Both of these partners were opposed to
McDougall's proposition to break up the establishment
at Astoria. They had done well in their traffic thus
far, and the prospects for the future were exceed-
i ngly good. They saw no reason for being frig] itened.
Should the Isaac Todd take Fort Astoria she could
not penetrate to all the posts of the interior. Thus
far they had been kept well supplied with goods; there
would be time enough to talk of breaking up the en-



212 AFFAIRS OF FORT ASTORIA.

terprise when there was nothing left to buy furs with,
or no furs to buy.

An incident of Clarke's journey to Fort Astoria at
this time may be worthy of mention, not as illustrative
of a general course, but rather as an exception to a just
and humane rule. It was the custom of fur-hunters
to treat the natives fairly, it being for their interest
to do so. But Clarke held the life of an Indian in
light esteem. Happily his associates condemned his
conduct in this instance unequivocally.

The facts are these: Having left his post in charge
of Pion, with three men, with his furs packed on
twenty-eight horses, Clarke arrived at the junction
of the Palouse and Lewis rivers on the 1st of June,
and was greatly pleased to find the boats he had left
with the natives, safe. He made them presents of
ammunition and tobacco, and even went so far in his
great good-humor as to drink wine with the chiefs
out of a silver goblet which had been sent by Astor
to Alexander McKay, and which still remained in
Clarke's possession. It was a grand affair to drink
wine from that cup, as Clarke made it appear, and
the eyes of the savages glistened as they regarded it,
and saw the value placed upon it by those having it
in charge. Truly there must be some singular charm
about it.

When about to start next morning, the silver cup
was missing. Search was made, but it was useless;
the cup had been stolen. Clarke was furious. He
swore he would hang the whole tribe if the cup was
not immediately forthcoming. The whole tribe was
summoned, the case stated, and the chiefs retired in
solemn deliberation. Soon they returned with joy de-
picted upon their faces, for the cup had been found,
and was now restored to the white chief. All was now
serene, the savages thought, for according to their
custom the restoration of a stolen article exonerates
the culprit.

" Where is the thief?" demanded Clarke.



D1P0LITIC HANGING. 213

" There," replied the chief, pointing to the criminal.

"I swore," said Clarke, "the thief should die, and
the white man never breaks his word."

The savages smiled, thinking it pretty acting. But
Clarke was in earnest. The man was hanged to his
own lodge-poles. Until the deed was done the na-
tives could not believe that such had been Clarice's
intention. Then the principal chief threw his robe
upon the ground, and harangued his people, after
which they retired precipitately to inform the neigh-
boring tribes. Then Clarke became alarmed, and hur-
ried on to Walla Walla, where he met Stuart and
McKenzie and told them w T hat he had done, expecting
praise, but receiving none.

Even while the partners stood there conversing,
Tummeatapam, the old chief of the Walla Wallas, the
white man's friend, rode hastily up.

" What have you clone, my brothers?" he exclaimed,
in great agitation. " You have spilled blood on our
lands. How shall I pacify my people?" Then he
wheeled and. rode rapidly away. The Walla Wallas
were greatly shocked at this deed. Not only had they
from the first been the true friends of the white men,
but prompted seemingly by feelings of pure humanity,
the} r had gone far out of their way to serve them.
The faint and weary travellers, the starving strag-
gler, so easy to cut off, they had always befriended.
They were remarkably honest withal; boats, horses,
and other property left in their charge had always
i cared for and returned. They had regarded
the white men as perfect beings. The Palouses were
their near neighbors and friends. With them stealing
was no crime, but something rather to be proud of.
The fur-hunters lost no time in taking their depar-
ture. All proceeded immediately to Fort Astoria,
where they arrived on the 14th of June, bringing with
them one hundred and forty packages of furs, being
the result of two years' trade at Okanagan and one
year's at Spokane.



CHAPTER X.

TRANSFER OF FORT ASTORIA.

1813.

McTavish at Astoria — A Royal Marriage — The 'Albatross'— Adven-
tures of Hunt — Captain Sowles, neither Warrior nor Trader —
Defence of McDougaix — Commodore Porter, U. S. X. — McDougall
holds Council — Fort Astoria in British Hands — King Comcomly to
the Fescue — H. M. S. 'Raccoon' — John McDonald in Command —
The Gallant Captain Black — Fort George — Failure of Astor's
Pacific Scheme.

Down the river on the 11th of April 1813, in gay-
est colors, flying the British flag, come two birch-bark
canoes, manned by nineteen Canadian voyageurs, now
in full soul;- and chorus, and commanded, one by John
George McTavish, and the other by his deputy,
Joseph Laroche. Sweeping gracefully round the
point, they land under the guns of the fort, and there
pitch their camp. McDougall hastens to invite the
distinguished stranger to his quarters; the object
of his visit he already knows.

McDougall was by nature a cold-blooded man;
stolid in body and mind, and like many before him,
his good name has suffered in the hands of some by
reason of his lack of fire. And yet he seems to have
stumbled upon the best course, the only course proper
to be pursued throughout the whole of this unpleasant
and luckless adventure. Often the weakness of a busi-
ness man is his strength. Judging from his apparent
qualities, either of his associates would have done
better for the company in his place, though Mc-
Kenzie was not much more persevering than he.

(214)



CHARACTER OF TEE MANAGERS. 215

Astor was peculiarly unfortunate in his fitting of
character to position. For so shrewd an observer
of human nature, his agents were almost to a man ill-
chosen. Clarke at the head would have put will and
energy into the enterprise, though his judgment was
not always of the soundest. All things considered,
David Stuart, with his mild determination and hu-
mane fearlessness, would have made the best manager.
Hunt's great mistake was in leaving the coast at all.
His presence at this time was of the most vital im-
portance, though it could scarcely have changed the
drift of affairs.

McTavish in diplomatic skill and artifice is equal
to them all. The Honorable Northwest Company
never lacked shrewd men, and among them all there
never was a more proficient tactician than he. Before
he enters the fort, he know T s quite well the feelings of
every man who has a voice upon the question which
brought him there. That any one of them was dis-
honorable, treacherous, or base, I do not for a moment
believe. They were every one of them brought up
in the strictest school of business honesty, and chosen
for this adventure on account of their good qualities,
and not because they were rascals. 1

Briefly, affairs stand thus. Between the United
States, whose languid protection was Fort Astoria's
downfall, and the British, under whose flag the North-
west Company traded, was war. It might last a year,
or twenty years; and terminate in favor of the one
power or the other; but while it lasted, or howsoever

1 That these Scotchmen were bad men, disloyal to Astor by reason of
their nationality and former associations, as certain writers would have us
believe, is in view of the circumstances absurd. In their agreement with
Astor they reserved the right toclose the business should their in
■ I ictate. Whatever loss might arise from the failure of the <
on them, in proportion to their share. Incase they were obliged to aban-
don t he adventure three laborious years would be lost to everj >
with no prospective gain. ' It was thus,' says one, ' that after haipng i i I
the i ea - and suffered all sorts of fatigues and privations, I lost in a moment
all my hopes of fortune.' Franchere's Nar.-, 193. For half a century United
stair.', residents of the north-west have harbored ill-will toward British sub-
jects of the same locality through such false representations.



216 TRANSFER OF FORT ASTORIA.

it terminated, supplies, without which business must
wholly cease, were sure to be uncertain, if not, in-
deed, entirely out of the question. The British were
the stronger power, having at command more money,
men, and ships; the war was on United States soil,
which gave United States citizens an advantage In
the Oregon Territory, subsequently disputed ground,
and at a distance from the head-quarters of both powers,
the British would have the advantage, for their money
and ships more easily spanned continents and seas
than a young nation's patriotism. The actual leader
of this enterprise was absent with the only ship at its
command; whether either would ever return was
doubtful. In fact, greater risk attended the Beaver'*
voyage than that of the Tonquin. A hostile ship
with letters of marque was hourly expected, which
would take the fort without firing half its guns; in
which event all the property would be confiscated.
For though partners and men were most of. them
British subjects, they were trading under an enemy's
flag; and though their persons might be respected,
their property could not be. Three courses lay open
to the partners: they might fight, or fly, or make
terms with the enemy. With an armed vessel at their
command, they might adopt the former course; as it
Avas it was impossible. Suppose they should escape
to the interior with their goods; half a dozen white
men with arms, whiskey, and tobacco could anywhere
raise natives enough thirsting for blood and plunder
to annihilate them. Hence it would be well to con-
sider calmly the last alternative. This I believe to
be a fair statement of the case.

Under such circumstances McDougall did not deem
it wise to treat McTavish as a deadly enemy. Though
Stuart and Clarke were not yet reconciled to the
abandonment of their project, and could but regard
the inroads of the Northwest Company with displeas-
ure, yet in view of past relations and what might be
in the near future, McDougall supplied McTavish



McTAVISH DIPLOMACY. 217

with necessaries from the garrison stores, and influ-
enced the savages to treat his party as friends. 2

It was with great difficulty that Clarke and Stuart
could be brought to entertain the thought of aban-
doning the enterprise. McTavisli said little; his
presence was his strongest argument. His position
was none of the pleasantest, dependent as he was on
the enemy's courtesy for subsistence. McDougall all
the while treated him with humane consideration,
kept vigilant guard lest the post should be surprised,
listened to his arguments, and employed them with no
small force in the conversion of Clarke and Stuart.
This was at last accomplished. They saw clearly
enough that if the Beaver did not return, and the
annual ships did not arrive, they would be left among
savages to shift for themselves.

Meanwhile the perplexities of McTavish increased.
He had long waited in vain the arrival of the Isaac
Todd, which was to make him master of the situation,
until he felt it unsafe for him to wait longer. He
therefore applied to the Astor company for goods
which would enable him to reach his post on the
upper Columbia and do a little trading on the way.
After further consultation the partners granted the
request, and goods were given him to the amount
of eight hundred and fifty-eight dollars, payable in
horses the following spring, or in any way the part-
ners should demand.

McTavish was now ready to depart. Neither force
nor threat had been employed to bring the Astor
company to terms. A mere statement of probabilities
had been placed before them; that was all. McTavish
was about to become a debtor to the company; had
the partners anything further to say? Yes, they had
well considered the matter, and all were now agreed
to dissolve the company the following year, provided

2 This Mr Irving, -muting from Astor's point of view, denominates 'un-
called-for hospitality.' and intimates that it would have served McTavish
right to have set Comcomly and his crew upon him.



21S TRANSFER OF FORT ASTORIA.

no relief came in the mean time. It was surely long
enough to wait upon an uncertainty, and they could
scarcely be jointly charged with hasty or ill-advised
action in the premises.

This was the arrangement. It was now the 1st of
Jul}' 1813. If before the 1st of June 1814, no relief
should reach them from any quarter, the posts upon
the Pacific should be abandoned, and McDougall be
empowered to transfer to the Northwest Company
at prices stipulated, all the property, goods, and furs
of the Pacific Company, should the former then be
disposed to purchase. This as a preliminary arrange-
ment or resolution was signed in triplicate by the four
partners, and copies delivered to McTavish, one for
the Northwest Company, and one to be forwarded to
Astor by the winter express. Meanwhile McDougall
with forty men was to remain in command at Astoria.
Stuart would winter at Shush wap, Clarke at Spokane,
and McKenzie in the Willamette Valley. Reed with
Pierre Dorion and five Canadians would proceed to
the Shoshone country, winter there, and make the
best preparations possible for the passage of the main
body across the mountains the following summer.
All were to meet at Fort Astoria in May, and set
out the 5th of July.

The parties for the upper country, with the excep-
tion of losing a cargo at the Cascades, and the acci-
dental shooting of Pillot in the leg, all reached Walla
Walla, where they found the natives still . smarting
under the late outrage committed by Clarke. The
presence of a brass four-pounder prevented an attaek,
but Clarke felt constrained to avoid the Palouse River
on his way to Spokane, and to take a circuitous route,
keeping company with Stuart as far as Okanagan.
Reed and party started south-easterly for the Shoshone
country. McKenzie made frequent trips from Astoria
up the Columbia and Willamette rivers, for dried
salmon. At the fort all were bus}^ baling skins and
preparing for final departure. McDougall embraced



HUNT'S STORY. 219

this occasion to form a matrimonial alliance with the
native sovereign of the country, after the manner of
the most successful fur- traders. The daughter of Com-
comly thenceforth took up her residence at the fort.

Scarcely had matters at Astoria assumed the tran-
quillity of a settled policy, when on the 20th of
August, less than two months after the departure . of
McTavish, Stuart, and Clarke, a vessel entered the
river and anchored opposite the fort. Immediately
all on shore were thrown into a nutter of excitement.
Did this portend war or peace? Was it the Isaac
Todd, or a supply-ship ? Their anxiety was somewhat
relieved by the display of the United States flag. A
salute from the fort was answered by the ship, and
McDougall put out in a small boat to board her.
Shortly after dark he returned, bringing with him
Hunt. The long fathomless mystery was soon ex-
plained. The strange arrival was the Albatross, Cap-
tain Smith, last from the Hawaiian Islands. Let us
listen to Hunt's story.

The Beaver had sailed from Astoria the 4th of the
previous August, so that the chief manager had been
absent from his post over a year. Scudding north-
ward under a favorable wind, in fifteen days the
Beaver entered the harbor of New Archangel. Hunt
landed and presented himself before the governor,
Baranof. Hunt then arranged for furnishing that
port with supplies and means of transportation for
its furs annually. After forty-five days spent in bar-
gaining, and in discharging that part of the cargo
sold, Baranof found he had not sufficient skins on
hand with which to pay for his purchases. Conse-
quently Hunt was obliged to proceed to the island of
St Paul, 3 in Bering Sea, the Russian seal-catching
establishment, where he arrived the 31st of October,
and took in a fine quantity of seal-skins. 4

3 Tikhmenef, Istor. Obosr., MS., i. 181.

1 • Being there informed that some Kodiak hunters had been left on some
adjacent isles, called the islands of St Peter and St Paul, and that these



220 TRANSFER OF FORT ASTORIA.

Ice and heavy gales having strained the ship, and
fearing the bar and bad weather at the month of the
Columbia, Hunt did not go from Kamchatka back to
Fort Astoria, as he intended and had been instructed,
but stood for the Hawaiian Islands, which he reached
late in the season, intending there to take the annual
ship to Astoria, while the Beaver should carry her
precious cargo to China.

Arrived at Canton, Captain Sowles found there
awaiting him a letter from Astor, notice of the war,
and instructions to sail forthwith to Fort Astoria
with the information, and render the fortress there
every assistance in his power. Evidently the captain
of the Beaver was not a man of war. There was no
Englishman that he knew of whose blood he wished
to spill ; he was very sure he wished no Englishman to
spill his blood. He was in the merchant-service, not
in the navy. He would wait until the war was over,
and then return to New York; so he wrote Astor.

This was not all — the captain was no better busi-
ness man than warrior. The furs on board his ship
had cost twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of goods ;
when he first arrived he might have sold them for one
hundred and fifty thousand, which invested in nan-
keens would have brought in New York, if the}' es-
caped shipwreck and privateers on the way, three
hundred thousand dollars. Five hundred per cent
profit, however, was not enough for this captain. He
held out for more. Furs began to fall; he would wait
a little while for them to rise; they fell still lower;
then he certainly would not sell, but borrowed money
at one and a half per cent, a month on Astor's account,
to pay his expenses, and waited for the war to cease.

At the Hawaiian Islands, Hunt w T as obliged to re-
main for six months before he found opportunity to
sail. The annual vessel did not come. Weary of

hunters had not been visited for three years, they determined to go thither,
and having reached those isles, they opened a brisk ti-ade, and secured no
less than eighty thousand skins of the South Sea seal.' Fmnchere's JS'ar., 175.



CRITICAL TOSITIOK 221

waiting he bought a small schooner with which he re-
solved to tempt the ocean, and was about t<> embark
in it when the Albatross arrived with information of
the war. Hunt immediately chartered the vessel and
sailed for Fort Astoria.

Mr Hunt was sadly disappointed when he learned
the decision of the partners, but when asked to pro-
pose another measure was at a loss to do so. It was
plainly evident that on one side the British, stirred to
hot action by the prospect of prize-money, were upon
them, while upon the other, their formidable rivals, the
Northwest Company, having been refused an amicable
adjustment of interests by a division of territory, had
now determined to crush them. Escape was impos-
sible either by sea or land. Cruisers were watching
them without, ready even now to pounce upon them;
and as well might a rich-laden caravan attempt to
fly across the Rocky Mountains, as to escape the Wah-
owpum banditti, the estranged Walla Wallas, the
outraged Palouses, and the terrible Blackfoot Indians,
when instigated, assisted, or encouraged by a few
white men. Even if robbed of everything by their
enemies, and their forts blown to the winds, they
might rally and continue, provided Astor could get
supplies to them; but without supplies not only was
their traffic at an end, but their lives were in great
jeopardy. 5 A child might see this; Hunt saw it, and

5 In his Astoria, Mr Irving lays himself open to the severest criticism
and censure. This is his line of reasoning: Astor set his heart upon the
accpiisition of great power and property on the Pacific Coast; therefore Astor
was a magnanimous man, one to be highly exalted, and whose schemes l>y
their inherent virtues should be successful. They failed. Some one must be
blamed, but not Astor. McDougall being in charge, and being likewise the
first to suggest capitulation, wasasfita person asany. Hence 1McT>< >n -all was
a bad man, disloyal to the enterprise from the beginning; in proof of which
he gave McTavish food and protection when he might have left him to star-
vation and the savages; therefore he was in league with McTavish. At the
time McDougall endeavors to hold out for another year, allies himself by mar-
riage with the chief for the greater safety of the establishment, ami. when
forced to come to terms or see the whole property swept away, makes a
better bargain for the Astor company with McTavish than the Nbrthwesl
Company will ratify, ami is obliged to take less — in view of all this his



222 TRANSFER OF FORT ASTORIA.

was quickly satisfied. He not only indorsed the steps
already taken by his partners, but he authorized Mc-
Dougall, in case of his absence, to conclude arrange-
ments with McTavish as best he might. 6

treachery is clearly apparent. Finally, when McDougall visits the British sloop
of war Raccoon he is coldly received by his countiymen, because he had just in
time saved to Astor 8SO,500, which otherwise would have fallen to them as
prize-money; hence he was incompetent, andavillain. Onpage475of Astoria,
speaking of the British war-vessels Phoebe, Cherub, and Raccoon, then on the
way to the Columbia, Mr Irving exclaims, ' Here then was the death-warrant of
unfortunate Astoria ! ' And yet in twenty places with Astor at his elbow he
•would make McDougall, Sowles, or any other person or thing responsible for
the failure. Suo sibl hunc gladio jugulo.

G Mark Mr Irving's language in this part of his narrative, who with strange
and effeminate inconsistency with his bold assertions, constantly condemns
McDougall while his facts exculpate him. 'As a means of facilitating the de-
spatch of business, Mr McDougall proposed that in case Mr Hunt should not
return, the whole arrangement with Mr McTavish should be left solely to him.
This was assented to; the contingency being possible but not probable.' Astoria,
475. It must be remembered that this was after the manifesto of the part-
ners had been approved by Mr Hunt. And again on the same page he speaks
of the coming British men-of-war and the certain destruction of ' unfortunate
Astoria.' If these ships were the ruination of the enterprise how shall we
blame McDougall for saving what he could? And yet writing with Astor at
his elbow we find flung in from one end of the book to the other, slurs and
innuendos upon the character of the Scotch partners, the Northwest Company,
and everybody except Mr Irving and Mr Astor. Even the old Russian com-
mander, Baranof, who gave $150,000 worth of seal-skins for 825,000 in mer-
chandise, is blamed by this captious biographer for unduly detaining Hunt
with convivial hospitality. Before leaving New York ' the confidence of Mr
Astor was abused,' Astoria, 51, because two of the partners, 'both of them
Scotchmen, and recently in the service of the Northwest Company,' asked of
the New York agent of the British government what would be their position
at Astoria in case of war. Now it would be exceedingly difficult for any but
the most morbid mind to find ' abuse of Mr Astor ' in this step. ' Captain



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