Infomotions, Inc.The Old Northwest : A chronicle of the Ohio Valley and beyond / Ogg, Frederic Austin, 1878-1951



Author: Ogg, Frederic Austin, 1878-1951
Title: The Old Northwest : A chronicle of the Ohio Valley and beyond
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Title: The Old Northwest, A Chronicle of the Ohio Valley and Beyond

Author: Frederic Austin Ogg

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The Old Northwest, A Chronicle Of The Ohio Valley And Beyond

By Frederic Austin Ogg

New Haven: Yale University Press
Toronto: Glasgow, Brook & Co.91
London: Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press

1919

CONTENTS

I. PONTIAC'S CONSPIRACY 
II. "A LAIR OF WILD BEASTS"
III. THE REVOLUTION BEGINS
IV. THE CONQUEST COMPLETED
V. WAYNE, THE SCOURGE OF THE INDIANS
VI. THE GREAT MIGRATION
VII. PIONEER DAYS AND WAYS
VIII. TECUMSEH
IX. THE WAR OF 1812 AND THE NEW WEST
X. SECTIONAL CROSS CURRENTS
XI. THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE



The Old Northwest

Chapter I. Pontiac's Conspiracy

The fall of Montreal, on September 8, 1760, while the plains
about the city were still dotted with the white tents of the
victorious English and colonial troops, was indeed an event of
the deepest consequence to America and to the world. By the
articles of capitulation which were signed by the Marquis de
Vaudreuil, Governor of New France, Canada and all its
dependencies westward to the Mississippi passed to the British
Crown. Virtually ended was the long struggle for the dominion of
the New World. Open now for English occupation and settlement was
that vast country lying south of the Great Lakes between the Ohio
and the Mississippi--which we know as the Old Northwest--today
the seat of five great commonwealths of the United States.

With an ingenuity born of necessity, the French pathfinders and
colonizers of the Old Northwest had chosen for their settlements
sites which would serve at once the purposes of the priest, the
trader, and the soldier; and with scarcely an exception these
sites are as important today as when they were first selected.
Four regions, chiefly, were still occupied by the French at the
time of the capitulation of Montreal. The most important, as well
as the most distant, of these regions was on the east bank of the
Mississippi, opposite and below the present city of St. Louis,
where a cluster of missions, forts, and trading-posts held the
center of the tenuous line extending from Canada to Louisiana. A
second was the Illinois country, centering about the citadel of
St. Louis which La Salle had erected in 1682 on the summit of
"Starved Rock," near the modern town of Ottawa in Illinois. A
third was the valley of the Wabash, where in the early years of
the eighteenth century Vincennes had become the seat of a colony
commanding both the Wabash and the lower Ohio. And the fourth was
the western end of Lake Erie, where Detroit, founded by the
doughty Cadillac in 1701, had assumed such strength that for
fifty years it had discouraged the ambitions of the English to
make the Northwest theirs.

Sir Jeffrey Amherst, to whom Vaudreuil surrendered in 1760,
forthwith dispatched to the western country a military force to
take possession of the posts still remaining in the hands of the
French. The mission was entrusted to a stalwart New Hampshire
Scotch-Irishman, Major Robert Rogers, who as leader of a band of
intrepid "rangers" had made himself the hero of the northern
frontier. Two hundred men were chosen for the undertaking, and on
the 13th of September the party, in fifteen whaleboats, started
up the St. Lawrence for Detroit.

At the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, near the site of the present
city of Cleveland, the travelers were halted by a band of Indian
chiefs and warriors who, in the name of their great ruler
Pontiac, demanded to know the object of their journeying. Parleys
followed, in which Pontiac himself took part, and it was
explained that the French had surrendered Canada to the English
and that the English merely proposed to assume control of the
western posts, with a view to friendly relations between the red
men and the white men. The rivers, it was promised, would flow
with rum, and presents from the great King would be forthcoming
in endless profusion. The explanation seemed to satisfy the
savages, and, after smoking the calumet with due ceremony, the
chieftain and his followers withdrew.

Late in November, Rogers and his men in their whaleboats appeared
before the little palisaded town of Detroit. They found the
French commander, Beletre, in surly humor and seeking to stir up
the neighboring Wyandots and Potawatomi against them. But the
attempt failed, and there was nothing for Beletre to do but
yield. The French soldiery marched out of the fort, laid down
their arms, and were sent off as prisoners down the river. The
fleur-de-lis, which for more than half a century had floated over
the village, was hauled down, and, to the accompaniment of
cheers, the British ensign was run up. The red men looked on with
amazement at this display of English authority and marveled how
the conquerors forbore to slay their vanquished enemies on the
spot.

Detroit in 1760 was a picturesque, lively, and rapidly growing
frontier town. The central portions of the settlement, lying
within the bounds of the present city, contained ninety or a
hundred small houses, chiefly of wood and roofed with bark or
thatch. A well-built range of barracks afforded quarters for the
soldiery, and there were two public buildings--a council house
and a little church. The whole was surrounded by a square
palisade twenty-five feet high, with a wooden bastion at each
corner and a blockhouse over each gateway. A broad passageway,
the chemin du ronde, lay next to the palisade, and on little
narrow streets at the center the houses were grouped closely
together.

Above and below the fort the banks of the river were lined on
both sides, for a distance of eight or nine miles, with little
rectangular farms, so laid out as to give each a water-landing.
On each farm was a cottage, with a garden and orchard, surrounded
by a fence of rounded pickets; and the countryside rang with the
shouts and laughter of a prosperous and happy peasantry. Within
the limits of the settlement were villages of Ottawas,
Potawatomi, and Wyandots, with whose inhabitants the French lived
on free and easy terms. "The joyous sparkling of the bright blue
water," writes Parkman; "the green luxuriance of the woods; the
white dwellings, looking out from the foliage; and in the
distance the Indian wigwams curling their smoke against the
sky--all were mingled in one broad scene of wild and rural
beauty."

At the coming of the English the French residents were given an
opportunity to withdraw. Few, however, did so, and from the
gossipy correspondence of the pleasure-loving Colonel Campbell,
who for some months was left in command of the fort, it appears
that the life of the place lost none of its gayety by the change
of masters. Sunday card parties at the quarters of the commandant
were festive affairs; and at a ball held in celebration of the
King's birthday the ladies presented an appearance so splendid as
to call forth from the impressionable officer the most
extravagant praises. A visit in the summer of 1761 from Sir
William Johnson, general supervisor of Indian affairs on the
frontier, became the greatest social event in the history of the
settlement, if not of the entire West. Colonel Campbell gave a
ball at which the guests danced nine hours. Sir William
reciprocated with one at which they danced eleven hours. A round
of dinners and calls gave opportunity for much display of
frontier magnificence, as well as for the consumption of
astonishing quantities of wines and cordials. Hundreds of Indians
were interested spectators, and the gifts with which they were
generously showered were received with evidences of deep
satisfaction.

No amount of fiddling and dancing, however, could quite drown
apprehension concerning the safety of the post and the security
of the English hold upon the great region over which this fort
and its distant neighbors stood sentinel. Thousands of square
miles of territory were committed to the keeping of not more than
six hundred soldiers. From the French there was little danger.
But from the Indians anything might be expected. Apart from the
Iroquois, the red men had been bound to the French by many ties
of friendship and common interest, and in the late war they had
scalped and slaughtered and burned unhesitatingly at the French
command. Hardly, indeed, had the transfer of territorial
sovereignty been made before murmurs of discontent began to be
heard.

Notwithstanding outward expressions of assent to the new order of
things, a deep-rooted dislike on the part of the Indians for the
English grew after 1760 with great rapidity. They sorely missed
the gifts and supplies lavishly provided by the French, and they
warmly resented the rapacity and arrogance of the British
traders. The open contempt of the soldiery at the posts galled
the Indians, and the confiscation of their lands drove them to
desperation. In their hearts hope never died that the French
would regain their lost dominion; and again and again rumors were
set afloat that this was about to happen. The belief in such a
reconquest was adroitly encouraged, too, by the surviving French
settlers and traders. In 1761 the tension among the Indians was
increased by the appearance of a "prophet" among the Delawares,
calling on all his race to purge itself of foreign influences and
to unite to drive the white man from the land.

Protests against English encroachments were frequent and, though
respectful, none the less emphatic. At a conference in
Philadelphia in 1761, an Iroquois sachem declared, "We, your
Brethren, of the several Nations, are penned up like Hoggs. There
are Forts all around us, and therefore we are apprehensive that
Death is coming upon us." "We are now left in Peace," ran a
petition of some Christian Oneidas addressed to Sir William
Johnson, "and have nothing to do but to plant our Corn, Hunt the
wild Beasts, smoke our Pipes, and mind Religion. But as these
Forts, which are built among us, disturb our Peace, and are a
great hurt to Religion, because some of our Warriors are foolish,
and some of our Brother Soldiers don't fear God, we therefore
desire that these Forts may be pull'd down, and kick'd out of the
way."

The leadership of the great revolt that was impending fell
naturally upon Pontiac, who, since the coming of the English, had
established himself with his squaws and children on a wooded
island in Lake St. Clair, barely out of view of the
fortifications of Detroit. In all Indian annals no name is more
illustrious than Pontiac's; no figure more forcefully displays
the good and bad qualities of his race. Principal chief of the
Ottawa tribe, he was also by 1763 the head of a powerful
confederation of Ottawas, Ojibwas, and Potawatomi, and a leader
known and respected among Algonquin peoples from the sources of
the Ohio to the Mississippi. While capable of acts of
magnanimity, he had an ambition of Napoleonic proportions, and to
attain his ends he was prepared to use any means. More clearly
than most of his forest contemporaries, he perceived that in the
life of the Indian people a crisis had come. He saw that, unless
the tide of English invasion was rolled back at once, all would
be lost. The colonial farmers would push in after the soldiers;
the forests would be cut away; the hunting-grounds would be
destroyed; the native population would be driven away or
enslaved. In the silence of his wigwam he thought out a plan of
action, and by the closing weeks of 1762 he was ready. Never was
plot more shrewdly devised and more artfully carried out.

During the winter of 1762-63 his messengers passed stealthily
from nation to nation throughout the whole western country,
bearing the pictured wampum belts and the reddened tomahawks
which symbolized war; and in April, 1763, the Lake tribes were
summoned to a great council on the banks of the Ecorces, below
Detroit, where Pontiac in person proclaimed the will of the
Master of Life as revealed to the Delaware prophet, and then
announced the details of his plan. Everywhere the appeal met with
approval; and not only the scores of Algonquin peoples, but also
the Seneca branch of the Iroquois confederacy and a number of
tribes on the lower Mississippi, pledged themselves with all
solemnity to fulfill their prophet's injunction "to drive the
dogs which wear red clothing into the sea." While keen-eyed
warriors sought to keep up appearances by lounging about the
forts and begging in their customary manner for tobacco, whiskey,
and gunpowder, every wigwam and forest hamlet from Niagara to the
Mississippi was astir. Dusky maidens chanted the tribal
war-songs, and in the blaze of a hundred camp-fires chiefs and
warriors performed the savage pantomime of battle.

A simultaneous attack, timed by a change of the moon, was to be
made on the English forts and settlements throughout all the
western country. Every tribe was to fall upon the settlement
nearest at hand, and afterwards all were to combine--with French
aid, it was confidently believed--in an assault on the seats of
English power farther east. The honor of destroying the most
important of the English strongholds, Detroit, was reserved for
Pontiac himself.

The date fixed for the rising was the 7th of May. Six days in
advance Pontiac with forty of his warriors appeared at the fort,
protested undying friendship for the Great Father across the
water, and insisted on performing the calumet dance before the
new commandant, Major Gladwyn. This aroused no suspicion. But
four days later a French settler reported that his wife, when
visiting the Ottawa village to buy venison, had observed the men
busily filing off the ends of their gunbarrels; and the
blacksmith at the post recalled the fact that the Indians had
lately sought to borrow files and saws without being able to give
a plausible explanation of the use they intended to make of the
implements.

The English traveler Jonathan Carver, who visited the post five
years afterwards, relates that an Ottawa girl with whom Major
Gladwyn had formed an attachment betrayed the plot. Though this
story is of doubtful authenticity, there is no doubt that, in one
way or another, the commandant was amply warned that treachery
was in the air. The sounds of revelry from the Indian camps, the
furtive glances of the redskins lounging about the settlement,
the very tension of the atmosphere, would have been enough to put
an experienced Indian fighter on his guard.

Accordingly when, on the fated morning, Pontiac and sixty
redskins, carrying under long blankets their shortened muskets,
appeared before the fort and asked admission, they were taken
aback to find the whole garrison under arms. On their way from
the gate to the council house they were obliged to march
literally between rows of glittering steel. Well might even
Pontiac falter. With uneasy glances, the party crowded into the
council room, where Gladwyn and his officers sat waiting. "Why,"
asked the chieftain stolidly, "do I see so many of my father's
young men standing in the street with their guns?" "To keep them
in training," was the laconic reply.

The scene that was planned was then carried out, except in one
vital particular. When, in the course of his speech professing
strong attachment to the English, the chieftain came to the point
where he was to give the signal for slaughter by holding forth
the wampum belt of peace inverted, he presented the emblem--to
the accompaniment of a significant clash of arms and roll of
drums from the mustered garrison outside--in the normal manner;
and after a solemn warning from the commandant that vengeance
would follow any act of aggression, the council broke up. To the
forest leader's equivocal announcement that he would bring all of
his wives and children in a few days to shake hands with their
English fathers, Gladwyn deigned no reply.

Balked in his plans, the chief retired, but only to meditate
fresh treachery; and when, a few days later, with a multitude of
followers, he sought admission to the fort to assure "his
fathers" that "evil birds had sung lies in their ears," and was
refused, he called all his forces to arms, threw off his
disguises, and began hostilities. For six months the settlement
was besieged with a persistence rarely displayed in Indian
warfare. At first the French inhabitants encouraged the
besiegers, but, after it became known that a final peace between
England and France had been concluded, they withheld further aid.
Throughout the whole period, the English obtained supplies with
no great difficulty from the neighboring farms. There was little
actual fighting, and the loss of life was insignificant.

By order of General Amherst, the French commander still in charge
of Fort Chartres sent a messenger to inform the redskins
definitely that no assistance from France would be forthcoming.
"Forget then, my dear children,"--so ran the admonition--"all
evil talks. Leave off from spilling the blood of your brethren,
the English. Our hearts are now but one; you cannot, at present,
strike the one without having the other for an enemy also." The
effect was, as intended, to break the spirit of the besiegers;
and in October Pontiac humbly sued for peace.

Meanwhile a reign of terror spread over the entire frontier.
Settlements from Forts Le Boeuf and Venango, south of Lake Eric,
to Green Bay, west of Lake Michigan, were attacked, and ruses
similar to that attempted at Detroit were generally successful. A
few Indians in friendly guise would approach a fort. After these
were admitted, others would appear, as if quite by chance.
Finally, when numbers were sufficient, the conspirators would
draw their concealed weapons, strike down the garrison, and begin
a general massacre of the helpless populace. Scores of pioneer
families, scattered through the wilderness, were murdered and
scalped; traders were waylaid in the forest solitudes; border
towns were burned and plantations were devastated. In the Ohio
Valley everything was lost except Fort Pitt, formerly Fort
Duquesne; in the Northwest, everything was taken except Detroit.

Fort Pitt was repeatedly endangered, and the most important
engagement of the war was fought in its defense. The relief of
the post was entrusted in midsummer to a force of five hundred
regulars lately transferred from the West Indies to Pennsylvania
and placed under the command of Colonel Henry Bouquet. The
expedition advanced with all possible caution, but early in
August, 1763, when it was yet twenty-five miles from its
destination, it was set upon by a formidable Indian band at Bushy
Run and threatened with a fate not un-like that suffered by
Braddock's little army in the same region nine years earlier.
Finding the woods full of redskins and all retreat cut off, the
troops, drawn up in a circle around their horses and supplies,
fired with such effect as they could upon the shadowy forms in
the forest. No water was obtainable, and in a few hours thirst
began to make the soldiery unmanageable. Realizing that the
situation was desperate, Bouquet resorted to a ruse by ordering
his men to fall back as if in retreat. The trick succeeded, and
with yells of victory the Indians rushed from cover to seize the
coveted provisions--only to be met by a deadly fire and put to
utter rout. The news of the battle of Bushy Run spread rapidly
through the frontier regions and proved very effective in
discouraging further hostilities.

It was Bouquet's intention to press forward at once from Fort
Pitt into the disturbed Ohio country. His losses, however,
compelled the postponement of this part of the undertaking until
the following year. Before he started off again he built at Fort
Pitt a blockhouse which still stands, and which has been
preserved for posterity by becoming, in 1894, the property of the
Pittsburgh chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
In October, 1764, he set out for the Muskingum valley with a
force of fifteen hundred regulars, Pennsylvania and Virginia
volunteers, and friendly Indians. By this time the great
conspiracy was in collapse, and it was a matter of no great
difficulty for Bouquet to enter into friendly relations with the
successive tribes, to obtain treaties with them, and to procure
the release of such English captives as were still in their
hands. By the close of November, 1764, the work was complete, and
Bouquet was back at Fort Pitt. Pennsylvania and Virginia honored
him with votes of thanks; the King formally expressed his
gratitude and tendered him the military governorship of the newly
acquired territory of Florida.

The general pacification of the Northwest was accomplished by
treaties with the natives in great councils held at Niagara,
Presqu'isle (Erie), and Detroit. Pontiac had fled to the Maumee
country to the west of Lake Erie, whence he still hurled his
ineffectual threats at the "dogs in red." His power, however, was
broken. The most he could do was to gather four hundred warriors
on the Maumee and Illinois and present himself at Fort Chartres
with a demand for weapons and ammunition with which to keep up
the war. The French commander, who was now daily awaiting orders
to turn the fortress over to the English, refused; and a
deputation dispatched to New Orleans in quest of the desired
equipment received no reply save that New Orleans itself, with
all the country west of the river, had been ceded to Spain. The
futility of further resistance on the part of Pontiac was
apparent. In 1765 the disappointed chieftain gave pledges of
friendship; and in the following year he and other leaders made a
formal submission to Sir William Johnson at Oswego, and Pontiac
renounced forever the bold design to make himself at a stroke
lord of the West and deliverer of his country from English
domination.

For three years the movements of this disappointed Indian leader
are uncertain. Most of the time, apparently, he dwelt in the
Maumee country, leading the existence of an ordinary warrior.
Then, in the spring of 1769, he appeared at the settlements on
the middle Mississippi. At the newly founded French town of St.
Louis, on the Spanish side of the river, he visited an old
friend, the commandant Saint Ange de Bellerive. Thence he crossed
to Cahokia, where Indian and creole alike welcomed him and made
him the central figure in a series of boisterous festivities.

An English trader in the village, observing jealously the honors
that were paid the visitor, resolved that an old score should
forthwith be evened up. A Kaskaskian redskin was bribed, with a
barrel of liquor and with promises of further reward, to put the
fallen leader out of the way; and the bargain was hardly sealed
before the deed was done. Stealing upon his victim as he walked
in the neighboring forest, the assassin buried a tomahawk in his
brain, and "thus basely," in the words of Parkman, "perished the
champion of a ruined race." Claimed by Saint-Ange, the body was
borne across the river and buried with military honors near the
new Fort St. Louis. The site of Pontiac's grave was soon
forgotten, and today the people of a great city trample over and
about it without heed.



Chapter II. "A Lair Of Wild Beasts"

Benjamin Franklin, who was in London in 1760 as agent of the
Pennsylvania Assembly, gave the British ministers some wholesome
advice on the terms of the peace that should be made with France.
The St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes regions, he said, must be
retained by England at all costs. Moreover, the Mississippi
Valley must be taken, in order to provide for the growing
populations of the seaboard colonies suitable lands in the
interior, and so keep them engaged in agriculture. Otherwise
these populations would turn to manufacturing, and the industries
of the mother country would suffer.

The treaty of peace, three years later, brought the settlement
which Franklin suggested. The vast American back country, with
its inviting rivers and lakes, its shaded hills, and its sunny
prairies, became English territory. The English people had,
however, only the vaguest notion of the extent, appearance, and
resources of their new possession. Even the officials who drew
the treaty were as ignorant of the country as of middle Africa.
Prior to the outbreak of the war no widely known English writer
had tried to describe it; and the absorbing French books of
Lahontan, Hennepin, and Charlevoix had reached but a small
circle. The prolonged conflict in America naturally stimulated
interest in the new country. The place-names of the upper Ohio
became household words, and enterprising publishers put out not
only translations of the French writers but compilations by
Englishmen designed, in true journalistic fashion, to meet the
demands of the hour for information.

These publications displayed amazing misconceptions of the lands
described. They neither estimated aright the number and strength
of the French settlements nor dispelled the idea that the western
country was of little value. Even the most brilliant Englishman
of the day, Dr. Samuel Johnson, an ardent defender of the treaty
of 1763, wrote that the large tracts of America added by the war
to the British dominions were "only the barren parts of the
continent, the refuse of the earlier adventurers, which the
French, who came last, had taken only as better than nothing." As
late indeed as 1789, William Knox, long Under-Secretary for the
Colonies, declared that Americans could not settle the western
territory "for ages," and that the region must be given up to
barbarism like the plains of Asia, with a population as unstable
as the Scythians and Tartars. But the shortsightedness of these
distant critics can be forgiven when one recalls that Franklin
himself, while conjuring up a splendid vision of the western
valleys teeming with a thriving population, supposed that the
dream would not be realized for "some centuries." None of these
observers dreamt that the territories transferred in 1763 would
have within seventy-five years a population almost equal to that
of Great Britain.

The ink with which the Treaty of Paris was signed was hardly dry
before the King and his ministers were confronted with the task
of providing government for the new possessions and of solving
problems of land tenure and trade. Still more imperative were
measures to conciliate the Indians; for already Pontiac's
rebellion had been in progress four months, and the entire back
country was aflame. It must be confessed that a continental
wilderness swarming with murderous savages was an inheritance
whose aspect was by no means altogether pleasing to the English
mind.

The easiest solution of the difficulty was to let things take
their course. Let seaboard populations spread at will over the
new lands; let them carry on trade in their own way, and make
whatever arrangements with the native tribes they desire.
Colonies such as Virginia and New York, which had extensive
western claims, would have been glad to see this plan adopted.
Strong objections, however, were raised. Colonies which had no
western claims feared the effects of the advantages which their
more fortunate neighbors would enjoy. Men who had invested
heavily in lands lying west of the mountains felt that their
returns would be diminished and delayed if the back country were
thrown open to settlers. Some people thought that the Indians had
a moral right to protection against wholesale white invasion of
their hunting-grounds, and many considered it expedient, at all
events, to offer such protection.

After all, however, it was the King and his ministers who had it
in their power to settle the question; and from their point of
view it was desirable to keep the western territories as much as
possible apart from the older colonies, and to regulate, with
farsighted policy, their settlement and trade. Eventually, it was
believed, the territories would be cut into new colonies; and
experience with the seaboard dependencies was already such as to
suggest the desirability of having the future settlements more
completely under government control from the beginning.

After due consideration, King George and his ministers made known
their policy on October 7, 1763, in a comprehensive proclamation.
The first subject dealt with was government. Four new provinces--
"Quebec, East Florida, West Florida, and Grenada"*--were set up
in the ceded territories, and their populations were guaranteed
all the rights and privileges enjoyed by the inhabitants of the
older colonies. The Mississippi Valley, however, was included in
no one of these provinces; and, curiously, there was no provision
whatever for the government of the French settlements lying 
within it. The number and size of these settlements were
underestimated, and apparently it was supposed that all the
habitants and soldiers would avail themselves of their privilege
of withdrawing from the ceded territories.

* The Proclamation of 1763 drew the boundaries of "four distinct
and separate governments." Grenada was to include the island of
that name, together with the Grenadines. Dominico, St. Vincent,
and Tobago. The Floridas lay south of the bounds of Georgia and
east of the Mississippi River. The Apalachicola River was to be
the dividing line between East and West Florida. Quebec included
the modern province of that name and that part of Ontario lying
north of a line drawn from Lake Nipissing to the point where the
forty-fifth parallel intersects the St. Lawrence River.


The disposition made of the great rectangular area bounded by the
Alleghanies, the Mississippi, the Lakes, and the Gulf, was fairly
startling. With fine disregard of the chartered claims of the
seaboard colonies and of the rights of pioneers already settled
on frontier farms, the whole was erected into an Indian reserve.
No "loving subject" might purchase land or settle in the
territory without special license; present residents should
"forthwith remove themselves"; trade should be carried on only by
permit and under close surveillance; officers were to be
stationed among the tribes to preserve friendly relations and to
apprehend fugitives from colonial justice.

The objects of this drastic scheme were never clearly stated.
Franklin believed that the main purpose was to conciliate the
Indians. Washington agreed with him. Later historians have
generally thought that what the English Government had chiefly in
mind was to limit the bounds of the seaboard colonies, with a
view to preserving imperial control over colonial affairs. Very
likely both of these motives weighed heavily in the decision. At
all events, Lord Hillsborough, who presided over the meetings of
the Lords of Trade when the proclamation was discussed,
subsequently wrote that the "capital object" of the Government's
policy was to confine the colonies so that they should be kept in
easy reach of British trade and of the authority necessary to
keep them in due subordination to the mother country, and he
added that the extension of the fur trade depended "entirely upon
the Indians being undisturbed in the possession of their
hunting-grounds."* 

* But as Lord Hillsborough had just taken office and adopted
bodily a policy formulated by his predecessor, he is none too
good an authority. See Alvord's "Mississippi Valley in British
Politics," vol. I, pp. 203-4.


It does not follow that the King and his advisers intended that
the territory should be kept forever intact as a forest preserve.
They seem to have contemplated that, from time to time, cessions
would be secured from the Indians and tracts would be opened for
settlement. But every move was to be made in accordance with
plans formulated or authorized in England. The restrictive policy
won by no means universal assent in the mother country. The Whigs
generally opposed it, and Burke thundered against it as "an
attempt to keep as a lair of wild beasts that earth which God, by
an express charter, has given to the children of men."

In America there was a disposition to take the proclamation
lightly as being a mere sop to the Indians. But wherever it was
regarded seriously, it was hotly resented. After passing through
an arduous war, the colonists were ready to enter upon a new
expansive era. The western territories were theirs by charter, by
settlement, and by conquest. The Indian population, they
believed, belonged to the unprogressive and unproductive peoples
of the earth. Every acre of fertile soil in America called to the
thrifty agriculturist; every westward flowing river invited to
trade and settlement as well, therefore, seek to keep back the
ocean with a broom as to stop by mere decree the tide of
homeseekers. Some of the colonies made honest attempts to compel
the removal of settlers from the reserved lands beyond their
borders, and Pennsylvania went so far as to decree the death
penalty for all who should refuse to remove. But the law was
never enforced.


The news of the cession of the eastern bank of the Mississippi to
the English brought consternation to the two or three thousand
French people living in the settlements of the Kaskaskia,
Illinois, and Wabash regions. The transfer of the western bank to
Spain did not become known promptly, and for months the habitants
supposed that by taking up their abode on the opposite side of
the stream they would continue under their own flag. Many of them
crossed the Mississippi to find new abodes even after it was
announced that the land had passed to Spain.

>From first to last these settlements on the Mississippi, the
Wabash, and the Illinois had remained, in French hands, mere
sprawling villages. The largest of them, Kaskaskia, may have
contained in its most flourishing days two thousand people, many
of them voyageurs, coureurs-de-bois, converted Indians, and
transients of one sort or another. In 1765 there were not above
seventy permanent families. Few of the towns, indeed, attained a
population of more than two or three hundred. All French colonial
enterprise had been based on the assumption that settlers would
be few. The trader preferred it so, because settlements meant
restrictions upon his traffic. The Jesuit was of the same mind,
because such settlements broke up his mission field. The
Government at Paris forbade the emigration of the one class of
people that cared to emigrate, the Huguenots.

Though some of the settlements had picturesque sites and others
drew distinction from their fortifications, in general they
presented a drab appearance. There were usually two or three
long, narrow streets, with no paving, and often knee-deep with
mud. The houses were built on either side, at intervals
sufficient to give space for yards and garden plots, each
homestead being enclosed with a crude picket fence. Wood and
thatch were the commonest building materials, although stone was
sometimes used; and the houses were regularly one story high,
with large vine-covered verandas. Land was abundant and cheap.
Every enterprising settler had a plot for himself, and as a rule
one large field, or more, was held for use in common. In these,
the operations of ploughing, sowing, and reaping were carefully
regulated by public ordinance. Occasionally a village drew some
distinction from the proximity of a large, well-managed estate,
such as that of the opulent M. Beauvais of Kaskaskia, in whose
mill and brewery more than eighty slaves were employed.

Agriculture was carried on somewhat extensively, and it is
recorded that, in the year 1746 alone, when there was a shortage
of foodstuffs at New Orleans, the Illinois settlers were able to
send thither "upward of eight hundred thousand weight of flour."
Hunting and trading, however, continued to be the principal
occupations; and the sugar, indigo, cotton, and other luxuries
which the people were able to import directly from Europe were
paid for mainly with consignments of furs, hides, tallow, and
beeswax. Money was practically unknown in the settlements, so
that domestic trade likewise took the form of simple barter.
Periods of industry and prosperity alternated with periods of
depression, and the easy-going habitants--"farmers, hunters,
traders by turn, with a strong admixture of unprogressive Indian
blood"--tended always to relapse into utter indolence.

Some of these French towns, however, were seats of culture; and
none was wholly barren of diversions. Kaskaskia had a Jesuit
college and likewise a monastery. Cahokia had a school for Indian
youth. Fort Chartres, we are gravely told, was "the center of
life and fashion in the West." If everyday existence was humdrum,
the villagers had always the opportunity for voluble conversation
"each from his own balcony"; and there were scores of Church
festivals, not to mention birthdays, visits of travelers or
neighbors, and homecomings of hunters and traders, which invited
to festivity. Balls and dances and other merrymakings at which
the whole village assembled supplied the wants of a people
proverbially fond of amusement. Indeed, French civilization in
the Mississippi and Illinois country was by no means without
charm.

Kaskaskia, in the wonderfully fertile "American Bottom,"
maintained its existence, in spite of the cession to the English,
as did also Vincennes farther east on the Wabash. Fort Chartres,
a stout fortification whose walls were more than two feet thick,
remained the seat of the principal garrison, and some traces of
French occupancy survived on the Illinois. Cahokia was deserted,
save for the splendid mission-farm of St. Sulpice, with its
thirty slaves, its herd of cattle, and its mill, which the
fathers before returning to France sold to a thrifty Frenchman
not averse to becoming an English subject. A few posts were
abandoned altogether. Some of the departing inhabitants went back
to France; some followed the French commandant, Neyon de
Villiers, down the river to New Orleans; many gathered up their
possessions, even to the frames and clapboards of their houses,
and took refuge in the new towns which sprang up on the western
bank. One of these new settlements was Ste. Genevieve,
strategically located near the lead mines from which the entire
region had long drawn its supplies of shot. Another, which was
destined to greater importance, was St. Louis, established as a
trading post on the richly wooded bluffs opposite Cahokia by
Pierre Laclede in 1764.

Associated with Laclede in his fur-trading operations at the new
post was a lithe young man named Pierre Chouteau. In 1846--
eighty-two years afterwards--Francis Parkman sat on the spacious
veranda of Pierre Chouteau's country house near the city of St.
Louis and heard from the lips of the venerable merchant stories
of Pontiac, Saint-Ange, Croghan, and all the western worthies,
red and white, of two full generations. "Not all the magic of a
dream," the historian remarks, "nor the enchantments of an
Arabian tale, could outmatch the waking realities which were to
rise upon the vision of Pierre Chouteau. Where, in his youth, he
had climbed the woody bluff, and looked abroad on prairies dotted
with bison, he saw, with the dim eye of his old age, the land
darkened for many a furlong with the clustered roofs of the
western metropolis. For the silence of the wilderness, he heard
the clang and turmoil of human labor, the din of congregated
thousands; and where the great river rolls down through the
forest, in lonely grandeur, he saw the waters lashed into foam
beneath the prows of panting steamboats, flocking to the broad
levee."

Pontiac's war long kept the English from taking actual possession
of the western country. Meanwhile Saint-Ange, commanding the
remnant of the French garrison at Fort Chartres, resisted as best
he could the demands of the redskins for assistance against their
common enemy and hoped daily for the appearance of an English
force to relieve him his difficult position. In the spring of
1764 an English officer, Major Loftus, with a body of troops
lately employed in planting English authority in "East Florida"
and "West Florida," set out from New Orleans to take possession
of the up-river settlements. A few miles above the mouth of the
Red, however, the boats were fired on, without warning, from both
banks of the stream, and many of the men were killed or wounded.
The expedition retreated down the river with all possible speed.
This display of faintheartedness won the keen ridicule of the
French, and the Governor, D'Abadie, with mock magnanimity,
offered an escort of French soldiery to protect the party on its
way back to Pensacola! Within a few months a second attempt was
projected, but news of the bad temper of the Indians caused the
leader, Captain Pittman, to turn back after reaching New Orleans.

Baffled in this direction, the new commander-in-chief, General
Gage, resolved to accomplish the desired end by an expedition
from Fort Pitt. Pontiac, however, was known to be still plotting
vengeance at that time, and it seemed advisable to break the way
for the proposed expedition by a special mission to placate the
Indians. For this delicate task Sir William Johnson selected a
trader of long experience and of good standing among the western
tribes, George Croghan. Notwithstanding many mishaps, the plan
was carried out. With two boats and a considerable party of
soldiers and friendly Delawares, Croghan left Fort Pitt in May,
1765. As he descended the Ohio he carefully plotted the river's
windings and wrote out an interesting description of the fauna
and flora observed. All went well until he reached the mouth of
the Wabash. There the party was set upon by a band of Kickapoos,
who killed half a dozen of his men. Fluent apologies were at once
offered. They had made the attack, they explained, only because
the French had reported that the Indians with Croghan's band
were Cherokees, the Kickapoos' most deadly enemies. Now that
their mistake was apparent, the artful emissaries declared, their
regret was indeed deep.

All of this was sheer pretense, and Croghan and his surviving
followers were kept under close guard and were carried along with
the Kickapoo band up the Wabash to Vincennes, where the trader
encountered old Indian friends who soundly rebuked the captors
for their inhospitality. Croghan knew the Indian nature too well
to attempt to thwart the plans of his "hosts." Accordingly he
went out with the band to the upper Wabash post Ouiatanon, where
he received deputation after deputation from the neighboring
tribes, smoked pipes of peace, made speeches, and shook hands
with greasy warriors by the score. Here came a messenger from
Saint-Ange asking him to proceed to Fort Chartres. Here, also,
Pontiac met him, and, after being assured that the English had no
intention of enslaving the natives, declared that he would no
longer stand in the conquerors' path. Though in unexpected
manner, Croghan's mission was accomplished, and, with many
evidences of favor from the natives, he went on to Detroit and
thence to Niagara, where he reported to Johnson that the
situation in the West was ripe for the establishment of English
sovereignty.

There was no reason for further delay, and Captain Thomas
Sterling was dispatched with a hundred Highland veterans to take
ever the settlements. Descending the Ohio from Fort Pitt, the
expedition reached Fort Chartres just as the frosty air began to
presage the coming of winter. On October 10, 1765,--more than two
and a half years after the signing of the Treaty of Paris,--
Saint-Ange made the long-desired transfer of authority. General
Gage's high-sounding proclamation was read, the British flag was
run up, and Sterling's red-coated soldiery established itself in
the citadel. In due time small detachments were sent to Vincennes
and other posts; and the triumph of the British power over
Frenchman and Indian was complete. Saint-Ange retired with his
little garrison to St. Louis, where, until the arrival of a
Spanish lieutenant-governor in 1770, he acted by common consent
as chief magistrate.

The creoles who passed under the English flag suffered little
from the change. Their property and trading interests were not
molested, and the English commandants made no effort to displace
the old laws and usages. Documents were written and records were
kept in French as well as English. The village priest and the
notary retained their accustomed places of paternal authority.
The old idyllic life went on. Population increased but little;
barter, hunting, and trapping still furnished the means of a
simple subsistence; and with music, dancing, and holiday
festivities the light-hearted populace managed to crowd more
pleasure into a year than the average English frontiersman got in
a lifetime.

For a year or two after the European pacification of 1763 Indian
disturbances held back the flood of settlers preparing to enter,
through the Alleghany passes, the upper valleys of the westward
flowing rivers. Neither Indian depredations nor proclamations of
kings, however, could long interpose an effectual restraint. The
supreme object of the settlers was to obtain land. Formerly there
was land enough for all along the coasts or in the nearer
uplands. But population, as Franklin computed, was doubling in
twenty-five years; vacant areas had already been occupied; and
desirable lands had been gathered into great speculative
holdings. Newcomers were consequently forced to cross the
mountains--and not only newcomers, but all residents who were
still land-hungry and ambitious to better their condition.

To such the appeal of the great West was irresistible. The
English Government might indeed regard the region as a "barren
waste" or a "profitless wilderness," but not so the Scotch-Irish,
Huguenot, and Palatine homeseekers who poured by the thousands
through the Chesapeake and Delaware ports. Pushing past the
settled seaboard country, these rugged men of adventure plunged
joyously into the forest depths and became no less the founders
of the coming nation than were the Pilgrims and the Cavaliers.

Ahead of the home-builder, however, went the speculator. It has
been remarked that "from the time when Joliet and La Salle first
found their way into the heart of the great West up to the
present day when far-off Alaska is in the throes of development,
'big business' has been engaged in western speculation."* In
pre-revolutionary days this speculation took the form of
procuring, by grant or purchase, large tracts of western land
which were to be sold and colonized at a profit. Franklin was
interested in a number of such projects. Washington, the Lees,
and a number of other prominent Virginians were connected with an
enterprise which absorbed the old Ohio Company; and in 1770
Washington, piloted by Croghan, visited the Ohio country with a
view to the discovery of desirable areas. Eventually he acquired
western holdings amounting to thirty-three thousand acres, with a
water-front of sixteen miles on the Ohio and of forty miles on
the Great Kanawha.

* Alvord, Mississippi Valley in "British Politics," vol. I, p.86.



In 1773 a company promoted by Samuel Wharton, Benjamin Franklin,
William Johnson, and a London banker, Thomas Walpole, secured the
grant of two and a half million acres between the Alleghanies and
the Ohio, which was to be the seat of a colony called Vandalia.
This departure from the policy laid down in the Proclamation of
1763 was made reluctantly, but with a view to giving a definite
western limit to the seaboard provinces. The Government's purpose
was fully understood in America, and the project was warmly
opposed, especially by Virginia, the chartered claimant of the
territory. The early outbreak of the Revolutionary War wrecked
the project, and nothing ever came of it--or indeed of any
colonization proposal contemporary with it. By and large, the
building of the West was to be the work, not of colonizing
companies or other corporate interests, but of individual
homeseekers, moving into the new country on their own
responsibility and settling where and when their own interests
and inclinations led.



Chapter III. The Revolution Begins

One of the grievances given prominence in the Declaration of
Independence was that the English Crown had "abolished the free
system of English laws in a neighbouring province, establishing
therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so
as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for
introducing the same arbitrary rule into these colonies." The
measure which was in the minds of the signers was the Quebec Act
of 1774; and the feature to which they especially objected was
the extension of this peculiarly governed Canadian province to
include the whole of the territory north of the Ohio and east of
the Mississippi.

The Quebec Act was passed primarily to remedy a curious mistake
made by King George's ministers eleven years earlier. The
Proclamation of 1763 had been intended to apply to the new French
speaking possessions in only a general way, leaving matters of
government and law to be regulated at a later date. But through
oversight it ordained the establishment of English law, and even
of a representative assembly, precisely as in the other new
provinces. The English governors were thus put in an awkward
position. They were required to introduce English political forms
and legal practices. Yet the inexperience and suspicion of the
people made it unwise, if not impossible, to do so. When, for
example, jury trial was broached, the peasants professed to be
quite unable to understand why the English should prefer to have
matters of law decided by tailors and shoemakers rather than by a
judge; and as for a legislature, they frankly confessed that
assemblies "had drawn upon other colonies so much distress, and
had occasioned so much riot and bloodshed, that they had hoped
never to have one."

The Act of 1774 relieved the situation by restoring French law in
civil affairs, abolishing jury trial except in criminal cases,
rescinding the grant of representative government, and confirming
the Catholic clergy in the rights and privileges which they hard
enjoyed under the old regime. This would have aroused no great
amount of feeling among New Englanders and Virginians if the new
arrangements had been confined to the bounds of the original
province. But they were not so restricted. On the contrary, the
new province was made to include the great region between the
Alleghanies and the Mississippi, southward to the Ohio; and it
was freely charged that a principal object of the English
Government was to sever the West from the shore colonies and
permanently link it with the St. Lawrence Valley rather than with
the Atlantic slope.

At all events, the Quebec Act marked the beginning of civil
government in the great Northwest. On November 9, 1775, Henry
Hamilton appeared as Lieutenant-Governor at the new capital,
Detroit. Already the "shot heard round the world" had been fired
by the farmers at Lexington; and Hamilton had been obliged to
thread his way through General Montgomery's lines about Montreal
in the guise of a Canadian. Arrived at his new seat of authority,
he found a pleasant, freshly fortified town whose white
population had grown to fifteen hundred, including a considerable
number of English-speaking settlers. The country round was
overrun with traders, who cheated and cajoled the Indians without
conscience; the natives, in turn, were a nondescript lot, showing
in pitiful manner the bad effects of their contact with the
whites.

As related by a contemporary chronicler--a Pennsylvanian who
lived for years among the western tribes--an Indian hunting party
on arriving at Detroit would trade perhaps a third of the
peltries which they brought in for fine clothes, ammunition,
paint, tobacco, and like articles. Then a keg of brandy would be
purchased, and a council would be held to decide who was to get
drunk and who to keep sober. All arms and clubs were taken away
and hidden, and the orgy would begin. It was the task of those
who kept sober to prevent the drunken ones from killing one
another, a task always hazardous and frequently unsuccessful,
sometimes as many as five being killed in a night. When the keg
was empty, brandy was brought by the kettleful and ladled out
with large wooden spoons; and this was kept up until the last
skin had been disposed of. Then, dejected, wounded, lamed, with
their fine new shirts torn, their blankets burned, and with
nothing but their ammunition and tobacco saved, they would start
off down the river to hunt in the Ohio country and begin again
the same round of alternating toil and debauchery. In the history
of the country there is hardly a more depressing chapter than
that which records the easy descent of the red man, once his
taste for "fire water" was developed, to bestiality and
impotence.

The coming on of the Revolution produced no immediate effects in
the West. The meaning of the occurrences round Boston was but
slowly grasped by the frontier folk. There was little indeed that
the Westerners could do to help the cause of the eastern
patriots, and most of them, if left alone, would have been only
distant spectators of the conflict. But orders given to the
British agents and commanders called for the ravaging of the
trans-Alleghany country; and as a consequence the West became an
important theater of hostilities.

The British agents had no troops with which to undertake military
operations on a considerable scale, but they had one great
resource--the Indians--and this they used with a reckless
disregard of all considerations of humanity. In the summer of
1776 the Cherokees were furnished with fifty horse-loads of
ammunition and were turned loose upon the back country of Georgia
and the Carolinas. Other tribes were prompted to depredations
farther north. White, half-breed, and Indian agents went through
the forests inciting the natives to deeds of horror; prices were
fixed on scalps--and it is significant of the temper of these
agents that a woman's scalp was paid for as readily as a man's.

In every corner of the wilderness the bloody scenes of Pontiac's
war were now reenacted. Bands of savages lurked about the
settlements, ready to attack at any unguarded moment; and
wherever the thin blue smoke of a settler's cabin rose, prowlers
lay in wait. A woman might not safely go a hundred yards to milk
a cow, or a man lead a horse to water. The farmer carried a gun
strapped to his side as he ploughed, and he scarcely dared
venture into the woods for the winter's supply of fuel and game.
Hardly a day passed on which a riderless horse did not come
galloping into some lonely clearing, telling of afresh tragedy on
the trail.

The rousing of the Indians against the frontiersmen was an odious
act. The people of the back country were in not the slightest
degree responsible for the revolt against British authority in
the East. They were non-combatants, and no amount of success in
sweeping them from their homes could affect the larger outcome.
The crowning villainy of this shameful policy was the turning of
the redskins loose to prey upon helpless women and children.

The responsibility for this inhumanity must be borne in some
degree by the government of George III. "God and nature," wrote
the Earl of Suffolk piously, "hath put into our hands the
scalping-knife and tomahawk, to torture them into unconditional
submission." But the fault lay chiefly with the British officers
at the western posts--most of all, with Lieutenant-Governor
Hamilton at Detroit. Probably no British representative in
America was on better terms with the natives. He drank with them,
sang war-songs with them, and received them with open arms when
they came in from the forests with the scalps of white men
dangling at their belts. A great council on the banks of the
Detroit in June, 1778, was duly opened with prayer, after which
Hamilton harangued the assembled Chippewas, Hurons, Mohawks, and
Potawatomi on their "duties" in the war and congratulated them on
the increasing numbers of their prisoners and scalps, and then
urged them to redoubled activity by holding out the prospect of
the complete expulsion of white men from the great interior
hunting-grounds.

Scarcely were the deputations attending this council well on
their way homewards when a courier arrived from the Illinois
country bringing startling news. The story was that a band of
three hundred rebels led by one George Rogers Clark had fallen
upon the Kaskaskia settlements, had thrown the commandant into
irons, and had exacted from the populace an oath of allegiance to
the Continental Congress. It was reported, too, that Cahokia had
been taken, and that, even as the messenger was leaving
Kaskaskia, "Gibault, a French priest, had his horse ready saddled
to go to Vincennes to receive the submission of the inhabitants
in the name of the rebels."

George Rogers Clark was a Virginian, born in the foothills of
Albemarle County three years before Braddock's defeat. His family
was not of the landed gentry, but he received some education, and
then, like Washington and many other adventuresome young men of
the day, became a surveyor. At the age of twenty-two he was a
member of Governor Dunmore's staff. During a surveying expedition
he visited Kentucky, which so pleased him that in 1774 he decided
to make that part of the back country his home. He was even then
a man of powerful frame, with broad brow, keen blue eyes, and a
dash of red in his hair from a Scottish ancestress--a man, too,
of ardent patriotism, strong common sense, and exceptional powers
of initiative and leadership. Small wonder that in the rapidly
developing commonwealth beyond the mountains he quickly became a
dominating spirit.

With a view to organizing a civil government and impressing upon
the Virginia authorities the need of defending the western
settlements, the men of Kentucky held a convention at Harrodsburg
in the spring of 1775 and elected two delegates to present their
petition to the Virginia Assembly. Clark was one of them. The
journey to Williamsburg was long and arduous, and the delegates
arrived only to find that the Legislature had adjourned. The
visit, none the less, gave Clark an opportunity to explain to the
new Governor--"a certain Patrick Henry, of Hanover County," as
the royalist Dunmore contemptuously styled his successor--the
situation in the back country and to obtain five hundred pounds
of powder. He also induced the authorities to take steps which
led to the definite organization of Kentucky as a county of
Virginia.

In the bloody days that followed, most of the pioneers saw
nothing to be done except to keep close guard and beat off the
Indians when they came. A year or two of that sort of desperate
uncertainty gave Clark an idea. Why not meet the trouble at its
source by capturing the British posts and suppressing the
commandants whose orders were mainly responsible for the
atrocities? There was just one obstacle: Kentucky could spare
neither men nor money for the undertaking.

In the spring of 1777 two young hunters, disguised as traders,
were dispatched to the Illinois country and to the neighborhood
of Vincennes, to spy out the land. They brought back word that
the posts were not heavily manned, and that the French-speaking
population took little interest in the war and was far from
reconciled to British rule. The prospect seemed favorable.
Without making his purpose known to anyone, Clark forthwith
joined a band of disheartened settlers and made his way with them
over the Wilderness Trail to Virginia. By this time a plan on the
part of the rebels for the defense of the Kentucky settlements
had grown into a scheme for the conquest of the whole Northwest.

Clark's proposal came opportunely. Burgoyne's surrender had given
the colonial cause a rosy hue, and already the question of the
occupation of the Northwest had come up for discussion in
Congress. Governor Henry thought well of the plan. He called
Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and George Wythe into conference,
and on January 2, 1778, Clark was given two sets of orders--one,
for publication, commissioning him to raise seven companies of
fifty men each "in any county of the Commonwealth" for militia
duty in Kentucky, the other, secret, authorizing him to use this
force in an expedition for the capture of the "British post at
Kaskasky." To meet the costs, only twelve hundred pounds in
depreciated continental currency could be raised. But the
Governor and his friends promised to try to secure three hundred
acres of land for each soldier, in case the project should
succeed. The strictest secrecy was preserved, and, even if the
Legislature had been in session, the project would probably not
have been divulged to it.

Men and supplies were gathered at Fort Pitt and Wheeling and were
carried down the Ohio to "the Falls," opposite the site of
Louisville. The real object of the expedition was concealed until
this point was reached. On learning of the project, the men were
surprised, and some refused to go farther. But in a few weeks one
hundred and seventy-five men, organized in four companies, were
in readiness. The start was made on the 24th of June. Just as the
little flotilla of clumsy flatboats was caught by the rapid
current, the landscape was darkened by an eclipse of the sun. The
superstitious said that this was surely an evil omen. But Clark
was no believer in omens, and he ordered the bateaux to proceed.
He had lately received news of the French alliance, and was surer
than ever that the habitants would make common cause with his
forces and give him complete success.

To appear on the Mississippi was to run the risk of betraying the
object of the expedition to the defenders of the posts. Hence the
wily commander decided to make the last stages of his advance by
an overland route. At the deserted site of Fort Massac, nine
miles below the mouth of the Tennessee, the little army left the
Ohio and struck off northwest on a march of one hundred and
twenty miles, as the crow flies, across the tangled forests and
rich prairies of southern Illinois.

Six days brought the invaders to the Kaskaskia River, three miles
above the principal settlement. Stealing silently along the bank
of the stream on the night of the 4th of July, they crossed in
boats which they seized at a farmhouse and arrived at the
palisades wholly unobserved. Half of the force was stationed in
the form of a cordon, so that no one might escape. The remainder
followed Clark through an unguarded gateway into the village.

According to a story long current, the officials of the post were
that night giving a ball, and all of the elite, not of Kaskaskia
alone but of the neighboring settlements as well, were joyously
dancing in one of the larger rooms of the fort. Leaving his men
some paces distant, Clark stepped to the entrance of the hall,
and for some time leaned unobserved against the door-post, grimly
watching the gayety. Suddenly the air was rent by a warwhoop
which brought the dancers to a stop. An Indian brave, lounging in
the firelight, had caught a glimpse of the tall, gaunt, buff and
blue figure in the doorway and had recognized it. Women shrieked;
men cursed; the musicians left their posts; all was disorder.
Advancing, Clark struck a theatrical pose and in a voice of
command told the merrymakers to go on with their dancing, but to
take note that they now danced, not as subjects of King George
but as Virginians. Finding that they were in no mood for further
diversion, he sent them to their homes; and all night they
shivered with fear, daring not so much as to light a candle lest
they should be set upon and murdered in their beds.

This account is wholly unsupported by contemporary testimony, and
it probably sprang from the imagination of some good frontier
story-teller. It contains at least this much truth, that the
settlement, after being thrown into panic, was quickly and easily
taken. Curiously enough, the commandant was a Frenchman,
Rocheblave, who had thriftily entered the British service. True
to the trust reposed in him, he protested and threatened, but to
no avail. The garrison, now much diminished, was helpless, and
the populace--British, French, and Indian alike--was not disposed
to court disaster by offering armed resistance. Hence, on the
morning after the capture the oath of fidelity was administered,
and the American flag was hoisted for the first time within view
of the Father of Waters. After dispatching word to General
Carleton that he had been compelled to surrender the post to "the
self-styled Colonel, Mr. Clark," Rocheblave was sent as a captive
to Williamsburg, where he soon broke parole and escaped. His
slaves were sold for five hundred pounds, and the money was
distributed among the troops. Cahokia was occupied without
resistance, and the French priest, Father Pierre Gibault, whose
parish extended from Lake Superior to the Ohio, volunteered to go
to Vincennes and win its inhabitants to the American cause.

Like Kaskaskia and Cahokia, the Wabash settlement had been put in
charge of a commandant of French descent. The village, however,
was at the moment without a garrison, and its chief stronghold,
Fort Sackville, was untenanted. Gibault argued forcefully for
acceptance of American sovereignty, and within two days the
entire population filed into the little church and took the oath
of allegiance. The astonished Indians were given to understand
that their former "Great Father," the King of France, had
returned to life, and that they must comply promptly with his
wishes or incur his everlasting wrath for having given aid to the
despised British.

Thus without the firing of a shot or the shedding of a drop of
blood, the vast Illinois and Wabash country was won for the
future United States. Clark's plan was such that its success was
assured by its very audacity. It never occurred to the British
authorities that their far western forts were in danger, and they
were wholly unprepared to fly to the defense of such distant
posts. British sovereignty on the Mississippi was never
recovered; and in the autumn of 1778 Virginia took steps to
organize her new conquest by setting up the county of Illinois,
which included all her territories lying "on the western side of
the Ohio."



Chapter IV. The Conquest Completed

Lieutenant-Governor Hamilton had many faults, but sloth was not
one of them; and when he heard what had happened he promptly
decided to regain the posts and take the upstart Kentucky
conqueror captive. Emissaries were sent to the Wabash country to
stir up the Indians, and for weeks the Detroit settlement
resounded with preparations for the expedition. Boats were built
or repaired, guns were cleaned, ammunition was collected in
boxes, provisions were put up in kegs or bags, baubles for the
Indians were made or purchased. Cattle and wheels, together with
a six-pounder, were sent ahead to be in readiness for use at
various stages of the journey.

Further weeks were consumed in awaiting reenforcements which
never came; and in early October, when the wild geese were
scudding southward before the first snow flurries of the coming
winter, the commandant started for the reconquest with a motley
force of thirty-six British regulars, forty-five local
volunteers, seventy-nine local militia, and sixty Indians.
Reenforcements were gathered on the road, so that when Vincennes
was reached the little army numbered about five hundred. From
Detroit the party dropped easily down the river to Lake Erie,
where it narrowly escaped destruction in a blinding snowstorm. By
good management, however, it was brought safely to the Maumee, up
whose sluggish waters the bateaux were laboriously poled. A
portage of nine miles gave access to the Wabash. Here the water
was very shallow, and only by building occasional dikes to
produce a current did the party find it possible to complete the
journey. As conferences with the Indians further delayed them, it
was not until a few days before Christmas that the invaders
reached their goal.

The capture of Vincennes proved easy enough. The surrender, none
the less, was made in good military style. There were two iron
three-pounders in the wretched little fort, and one of these was
loaded to the muzzle and placed in the open gate. As Hamilton and
his men advanced, so runs a not very well authenticated story,
Lieutenant Helm stood by the gun with a lighted taper and called
sternly upon the invaders to halt. The British leader demanded
the surrender of the garrison. Helm parleyed and asked for terms.
Hamilton finally conceded the honors of war, and Helm
magnanimously accepted. Hamilton thereupon drew up his forces in
a double line, the British on one side and the Indians on the
other; and the garrison--one officer and one soldier--solemnly
marched out between them! After the "conquerors" had regained
their equanimity, the cross of St. George was once more run up on
the fort. A body of French militia returned to British allegiance
with quite as much facility as it had shown in accepting American
sovereignty under the eloquence of Father Gibault; and the French
inhabitants, gathered again in the church, with perfectly
straight faces acknowledged that they had "sinned against God and
man" by taking sides with the rebels, and promised to be loyal
thereafter to George III.

Had the British forces immediately pushed on, this same scene
might have been repeated at Kaskaskia and Cahokia. Clark's
position there was far from strong. Upon the expiration of their
term of enlistment most of his men had gone back to Kentucky or
Virginia, and their places had been taken mainly by creoles,
whose steadfastness was doubtful. Furthermore, the Indians were
restless, and it was only by much vigilance and bravado that they
were kept in a respectful mood. All this was well known to
Hamilton, who now proposed to follow up the recapture of the
Mississippi posts by the obliteration of all traces of American
authority west of the Alleghanies.

The difficulties and dangers of a midwinter campaign in the
flooded Illinois country were not to be lightly regarded, and
weeks of contending with icy blasts and drenching rains lent a
seat by an open fire unusual attractiveness. Hence the completion
of the campaign was postponed until spring--a decision which
proved the salvation of the American cause in the West. As means
of subsistence were slender, most of the Detroit militia were
sent home, and the Indians were allowed to scatter to their
distant wigwams. The force kept at the post numbered only about
eighty or ninety whites, with a few Indians.

Clark now had at Kaskaskia a band of slightly over a hundred men.
He understood Hamilton's army to number five or six hundred. The
outlook was dubious, until Francois Vigo, a friendly Spanish
trader of St. Louis, escaping captivity at Vincennes, came to
Kaskaskia with the information that Hamilton had sent away most
of his troops; and this welcome news gave the doughty Kentuckian
a brilliant idea. He would defend his post by attacking the
invaders while they were yet at Vincennes, and before they were
ready to resume operations. "The case is desperate," he wrote to
Governor Henry, "but, sir, we must either quit the country or
attack Mr. Hamilton." He had probably never heard of Scipio
Africanus but, like that indomitable Roman, he proposed to carry
the war straight into the enemy's country. "There were
undoubtedly appalling difficulties," says Mr. Roosevelt, "in the
way of a midwinter march and attack; and the fact that Clark
attempted and performed the feat which Hamilton dared not try,
marks just the difference between a man of genius and a good,
brave, ordinary commander."

Preparations were pushed with all speed. A large, flat-bottomed
boat, the Willing, was fitted out with four guns and was sent
down the Mississippi with forty men to ascend the Ohio and the
Wabash to a place of rendezvous not far from the coveted post. By
early February the depleted companies were recruited to their
full strength; and after the enterprise had been solemnly blessed
by Father Gibault, Clark and his forces, numbering one hundred
and thirty men, pushed out upon the desolate, windswept prairie.

The distance to be covered was about two hundred and thirty
miles. Under favorable circumstances, the trip could have been
made in five or six days and with little hardship. The rainy
season, however, was now at its height, and the country was one
vast quagmire, overrun by swollen streams which could be crossed
only at great risk. Ten days of wearisome marching brought the
expedition to the forks of the Little Wabash. The entire region
between the two channels was under water, and for a little time
it looked as if the whole enterprise would have to be given up.
There were no boats; provisions were running low; game was
scarce; and fires could not be built for cooking.

But Clark could not be turned back by such difficulties. He
plunged ahead of his men, struck tip songs and cheers to keep
them in spirit, played the buffoon, went wherever danger was
greatest, and by an almost unmatched display of bravery, tact,
and firmness, won the redoubled admiration of his suffering
followers and held them together. Murmurs arose among the
creoles, but the Americans showed no signs of faltering. For more
than a week the party floundered through the freezing water,
picked its way from one outcropping bit of earth to another, and
seldom found opportunity to eat or sleep. Rifles and powder-horns
had to be borne by the hour above the soldiers' heads to keep
them dry.

Finally, on the 23d of February, a supreme effort carried the
troops across the Horseshoe Plain, breast-deep in water, and out
upon high ground two miles from Vincennes. By this time many of
the men were so weakened that they could drag themselves along
only with assistance. But buffalo meat and corn were confiscated
from the canoes of some passing squaws, and soon the troops were
refreshed and in good spirits. The battle with the enemy ahead
seemed as nothing when compared with the struggle with the
elements which they had successfully waged. No exploit of the
kind in American history surpasses this, unless it be Benedict
Arnold's winter march through the wilderness of Maine in 1775 to
attack Quebec.

Two or three creole hunters were now taken captive, and from them
Clark learned that no one in Vincennes knew of his approach. They
reported, however, that, although the habitants were tired of the
"Hair-Buyer's" presence and would gladly return to American
allegiance, some two hundred Indians had just arrived at the
fort. The Willing had not been heard from. But an immediate
attack seemed the proper course; and the young colonel planned
and carried it out with the curious mixture of bravery and
braggadocio of which he was a past master.

First he drew up a lordly letter, addressed to the inhabitants of
the town, and dispatched it by one of his creole prisoners.
"Gentlemen," it ran, "being now within two miles of your village
with my army...and not being willing to surprise you, I take
this step to request such of you as are true citizens, and
willing to enjoy the liberty I bring you, to remain still in your
houses. And those, if any there be, that are friends to the King,
will instantly repair to the fort and join the Hair-Buyer General
and fight like men." Having thus given due warning, he led his
"army" forward, marching and counter-marching his meager forces
among the trees and hills to give an appearance of great numbers,
while he and his captains helped keep up the illusion by
galloping wildly here and there on horses they had confiscated,
as if ordering a vast array. At nightfall the men advanced upon
the stockade and opened fire from two directions.

Not until a sergeant reeled from his chair with a bullet in his
breast did the garrison realize that it was really under attack.
The habitants had kept their secret well. There was a beating of
drums and a hurrying to arms, and throughout the night a hot
fusillade was kept up. By firing from behind houses and trees,
and from rifle pits that were dug before the attack began, the
Americans virtually escaped loss; while Hamilton's gunners were
picked off as fast as they appeared at the portholes of the fort.
Clark's ammunition ran low, but the habitants furnished a fresh
supply and at the same time a hot breakfast for the men. In a few
hours the cannon were silenced, and parleys were opened. Hamilton
insisted that he and his garrison were "not disposed to be awed
into an action unworthy of British subjects," but they were
plainly frightened, and Clark finally sent the commandant back to
the fort from a conference in the old French church with the
concession of one hour's time in which to decide what he would
do. To help him make up his mind, the American leader caused half
a dozen Indians who had just returned from the forests with white
men's scalps dangling at their belts to be tomahawked and thrown
into the river within plain view of the garrison.

Surrender promptly followed. Hamilton and twenty-five of his men
were sent off as captives to Virginia, where the commandant
languished in prison until, in 1780, he was paroled at the
suggestion of Washington. On taking, an oath of neutrality, the
remaining British sympathizers were set at liberty. For a second
time the American flag floated over Indiana soil, not again to be
lowered.

Immediately after the capitulation of Hamilton, a scouting-party
captured a relief expedition which was on its way from Detroit
and placed in Clark's hands ten thousand pounds' worth of
supplies for distribution as prize-money among his deserving men.
The commander's cup of satisfaction was filled to the brim when
the Willing appeared with a long-awaited messenger from Governor
Henry who brought to the soldiers the thanks of the Legislature
of Virginia for the capture of Kaskaskia and also the promise of
more substantial reward.

The whole of the Illinois and Indiana country was now in American
hands. Tenure, however, was precarious so long as Detroit
remained a British stronghold, and Clark now broadened his plans
to embrace the capture of that strategic place. Leaving Vincennes
in charge of a garrison of forty men, he returned to Kaskaskia
with the Willing and set about organizing a new expedition.
Kentucky pledged three hundred men, and Virginia promised to
help. But when, in midsummer, the commander returned to Vincennes
to consolidate and organize his force, he found the numbers to be
quite insufficient. From Kentucky there came only thirty men.

Disappointment followed disappointment; he was ordered to build a
fort at the mouth of the Ohio--a project of which be had himself
approved; and when at last he had under his command a force that
might have been adequate for the Detroit expedition, he was
obliged to use it in meeting a fresh incursion of savages which
had been stirred up by the new British commandant on the Lakes.
But Thomas Jefferson, who in 1779 succeeded Henry as Governor of
Virginia, was deeply interested in the Detroit project, and at
his suggestion Washington gave Clark an order on the commandant
of Fort Pitt for guns, supplies, and such troops as could be
spared. On January 22, 1781, Jefferson appointed Clark
"brigadier-general of the forces to be embodied on an expedition
westward of the Ohio." Again Clark was doomed to disappointment.
One obstacle after another interposed. Yet as late as May, 1781,
the expectant conqueror wrote to Washington that he had "not yet
lost sight of Detroit." Suitable opportunity for the expedition
never came, and when peace was declared the northern stronghold
was still in British hands.

Clark's later days were clouded. Although Virginia gave him six
thousand acres of land in southern Indiana and presented him with
a sword, peace left him without employment, and he was never able
to adjust himself to the changed situation. For many years he
lived alone in a little cabin on the banks of the Ohio, spending
his time hunting, fishing,and brooding over the failure of
Congress to reward him in more substantial manner for his
services. He was land-poor, lonely, and embittered. In 1818 he
died a paralyzed and helpless cripple. His resting place is in
Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville; the finest statue of him stands
in Monument Circle, Indianapolis--"an athletic figure, scarcely
past youth, tall and sinewy, with a drawn sword, in an attitude
of energetic encouragement, as if getting his army through the
drowned lands of the Wabash."*

* Hosmer, "Short History of the Mississippi Valley." p. 94. 


The capture of Vincennes determined the fate of the Northwest.
Frontier warfare nevertheless went steadily on. In 1779 Spain
entered the contest as an ally of France, and it became the
object of the British commanders on the Lakes not only to recover
the posts lost to the Americans but to seize St. Louis and other
Spanish strongholds on the west bank of the Mississippi. In 1780
Lieutenant-Governor Patrick Sinclair, a bustling, garrulous old
soldier stationed at Michilimackinac, sent a force of some nine
hundred traders, servants, and Indians down the Mississippi to
capture both the American and Spanish settlements. An attack on
St. Louis failed, as did likewise a series of efforts against
Cahokia and Kaskaskia, and the survivors were glad to reach their
northern headquarters again, with nothing to show for their pains
except a dozen prisoners.

Not to be outdone, the Spanish commandant at St. Louis sent an
expedition to capture British posts in the Lake country. An
arduous winter march brought the avengers and their Indian allies
to Fort St. Joseph, a mile or two west of the present city of
Niles, Michigan. It would be ungracious to say that this post was
selected for attack because it was without a garrison. At all
events, the place was duly seized, the Spanish standard was set
up, and possession of "the fort and its dependencies" was taken
in the name of his Majesty Don Carlos III. No effort was made to
hold the settlement permanently, and the British from Detroit
promptly retook it. Probably the sole intention had been to add
somewhat to the strength of the Spanish position at the
forthcoming negotiations for peace.

The war in the West ended, as it began, in a carnival of
butchery. Treacherous attacks, massacres, burnings, and
pillagings were everyday occurrences, and white men were hardly
less at fault than red. Indeed the most discreditable of all the
recorded episodes of the time was a heartless massacre by
Americans of a large band of Indians that had been Christianized
by Moravian missionaries and brought together in a peaceful
community on the Muskingum. This slaughter of the innocents at
Gnadenhutten ("the Tents of Grace") reveals the frontiersman at
his worst. But it was dearly paid for. From the Lakes to the Gulf
redskins rose for vengeance. Villages were wiped out, and
murderous bands swept far into Virginia and Pennsylvania, evading
fortified posts in order to fall with irresistible fury on
unsuspecting traders and settlers.

In midsummer, 1782, news of the cessation of hostilities between
Great Britain and her former seaboard colonies reached the back
country, and the commandant at Detroit made an honest effort to
stop all offensive operations. A messenger failed, however, to
reach a certain Captain Caldwell, operating in the Ohio country,
in time to prevent him from attacking a Kentucky settlement and
bringing on the deadly Battle of Blue Licks, in which the
Americans were defeated with a loss of seventy-one men. George
Rogers Clark forthwith led a retaliatory expedition against the
Miami towns, taking prisoners, recapturing whites, and destroying
British trading establishments; and with this final flare-up the
Revolution came to an end in the Northwest.

The soldier had won the back country for the new nation. Could
the diplomat hold it? As early as March 19, 1779,--just three
weeks after Clark's capture of Vincennes,--the Continental
Congress formally laid claim to the whole of the Northwest; and a
few months later John Adams was instructed to negotiate for peace
on the understanding that the country's northern and western
boundaries were to be the line of the Great Lakes and the
Mississippi. When, in 1781, Franklin, Jefferson, Jay, and Laurens
were appointed to assist Adams in the negotiation, the new
Congress of the Confederation stated that the earlier
instructions on boundaries represented its "desires and
expectations."

It might have been supposed that if Great Britain could be
brought to accept these terms there would be no further
difficulty. But obstacles arose from other directions. France had
entered the war for her own reasons, and looked with decidedly
more satisfaction on the defeat of Great Britain than on the
prospect of a new and powerful nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Furthermore, she was in close alliance with Spain; and Spain had
no sympathy whatever with the American cause as such. At all
events, she did not want the United States for a neighbor on the
Mississippi.

The American commissioners were under instructions to make no
peace without consulting France. But when, in the spring of 1782,
Jay came upon the scene of the negotiations at Paris, he
demurred. He had been for some time in Spain, and he carried to
Paris not only a keen contempt for the Spanish people and Spanish
politics, but a strong suspicion that Spain was using her
influence to keep the United States from getting the territory
between the Lakes and the Ohio. France soon fell under similar
suspicion, for she was under obligations, as everyone knew, to
satisfy Spain; and little time elapsed before the penetrating
American diplomat was semiofficially assured that his suspicions
in both directions were well founded.

The mainspring of Spanish policy was the desire to make the Gulf
of Mexico a closed sea, under exclusive Spanish control. This
plan would be frustrated if the Americans acquired an outlet on
the Gulf; furthermore, it would be jeopardized if they retained
control on the upper Mississippi. Hence, the States must be kept
back from the great river; safety dictated that they be confined
to the region east of the Appalachians.

An ingenious plan was thereupon developed. Spain was to resume
possession of the Floridas, insuring thereby the coveted unbroken
coast line on the Gulf. The vast area between the Mississippi and
the Appalachians and south of the Ohio was to be an Indian
territory, half under Spanish and half under American
"protection." The entire region north of the Ohio was to be kept
by Great Britain, or, at the most, divided--on lines to be
determined--between Great Britain and the United States. From
Rayneval, confidential secretary of the French foreign minister
Vergennes, Jay learned that the French Government proposed to
give this scheme its support.

Had such terms as these been forced on the new nation, the
hundreds of Virginian and Pennsylvanian pioneers who had given up
their lives in the planting of American civilization in the back
country would have turned in their graves. But Jay had no notion
of allowing the scheme to succeed. He sent an emissary to England
to counteract the Spanish and French influence. He converted
Adams to his way of thinking, and even raised doubts in
Franklin's mind. Finally he induced his colleagues to cast their
instructions to the winds and negotiate a treaty with the mother
country independently.

This simplified matters immensely. Great Britain was a beaten
nation, and from the beginning her commissioners played a losing
game. There was much haggling over the loyalists, the fisheries,
debts; but the boundaries were quickly drawn. Great Britain
preferred to see the disputed western country in American hands
rather than to leave a chance for it to fall under the control of
one of her European rivals.

Accordingly, the Treaty of Paris drew the interior boundary of
the new nation through the Great Lakes and connecting waters to
the Lake of the Woods; from the most northwestern point of the
Lake of the Woods due west to the Mississippi (an impossible
line); down the Mississippi to latitude 31 degrees; thence east,
by that parallel and by the line which is now the northern
boundary of Florida, to the ocean. Three nations, instead of two,
again shared the North American Continent: Great Britain kept the
territory north of the Lakes; Spain ruled the Floridas and
everything west of the Mississippi; the United States held the
remainder--an area of more than 825,000 square miles, with a
population of three and one half millions.



Chapter V. Wayne, The Scourge Of The Indians

"This federal republic," wrote the Spanish Count d'Aranda to his
royal master in 1782, "is born a pigmy. A day will come when it
will be a giant, even a colossus. Liberty of conscience, the
facility for establishing a new population on immense lands, as
well as the advantages of the new government, will draw thither
farmers and artisans from all the nations."

Aranda correctly weighed the value of the country's vast
stretches of free and fertile land. The history of the United
States has been largely a story of the clearing of forests, the
laying out of farms, the erection of homes, the construction of
highways, the introduction of machinery, the building of
railroads, the rise of towns and of great cities. The Germans of
Wisconsin and Missouri, the Scandinavians of Minnesota and the
Dakotas, the Poles and Hungarians of Chicago, the Irish and
Italians of a thousand communities, attest the fact that the
"farmers and artisans from all the nations" have had an honorable
part in the achievement.

In laying plans for the development of the western lands the
statesmanship of the evolutionary leaders was at its best. In the
first place, the seven States which had some sort of title to
tracts extending westward to the Mississippi wisely yielded these
claims to the nation; and thus was created a single, national
domain which could be dealt with in accordance with a consistent
policy. In the second place, Congress, as early as 1780, pledged
the national Government to dispose of the western lands for the
common benefit, and promised that they should be "settled and
formed into distinct republican states, which shall become
members of the federal union, and have the same rights of
sovereignty, freedom; and independence as the other states."

Finally, in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 there was mapped out
a scheme of government admirably adapted to the liberty-loving,
yet law-abiding, populations of the frontier. It was based on the
broad principles of democracy, and it was sufficiently flexible
to permit necessary changes as the scattered settlements
developed into organized Territories and then into States.
Geographical conditions, as well as racial inheritances,
foreordained that the United States should be an expanding,
colonizing nation; and it was of vital importance that wholesome
precedents of territorial control should be established in the
beginning. Louisiana, Florida, the Mexican accessions, Alaska,
and even the newer tropical dependencies, owe much to the
decisions that were reached in the organizing of the Northwest a
century and a quarter ago.

The Northwest Ordinance was remarkable in that it was framed for
a territory that had practically no white population and which,
in a sense, did not belong to the United States at all. Back in
1768 Sir William Johnson's Treaty of Fort Stanwix had made the
Ohio River the boundary between the white and red races of the
West. Nobody at the close of the Revolution supposed that this
division would be adhered to; the Northwest had not been won for
purposes of an Indian reserve. None the less, the arrangements of
1768 were inherited, and the nation considered them binding
except in so far as they were modified from time to time by new
agreements. The first such agreement affecting the Northwest was
concluded in 1785, through George Rogers Clark and two other
commissioners, with the Wyandots, Delawares, Chippewas, and
Ottawas. By it the United States acquired title to the
southeastern half of the present State of Ohio, with a view to
surveying the lands and raising revenue by selling them.
Successive treaties during the next thirty years gradually
transferred the whole of the Northwest from Indian hands to the
new nation.

Officially, the United States recognized the validity of the
Indian claims; but the pioneer homeseeker was not so certain to
do so. From about 1775 the country south of the Ohio filled
rapidly with settlers from Virginia and the Carolinas, so that by
1788 the white population beyond the Blue Ridge was believed to
be considerably over one hundred thousand. For a decade the
"Indian side," as the north shore was habitually called, was
trodden only by occasional hunters, traders, and explorers. But
after Clark's victories on the Mississippi and the Wabash, the
frontiersmen grew bolder. By 1780 they began to plant camps and
cabins on the rich bottom-lands of the Miamis, the Scioto, and
the Muskingum; and when they heard that the British claims in the
West had been formally yielded, they assumed that whatever they
could take was theirs. With the technicalities of Indian claims
they had not much patience. In 1785 Colonel Harmar, commanding at
Fort Pitt, sent a deputation down the river to drive the
intruders back. But his agents returned with the report that the
Virginians and Kentuckians were moving into the forbidden country
"by the forties and fifties," and that they gave every evidence
of proposing to remain there. Surveyors were forthwith set to
work in the "Seven Ranges," as the tract just to the west of the
Pennsylvania boundary was called; and Fort Harmar was built at
the mouth of the Muskingum to keep the over-ardent settlers back.

The close of the Revolution brought not only a swift revival of
emigration to the West but also a remarkable outburst of
speculation in western land. March 3, 1786, General Rufus Putnam
and some other Continental officers met at the "Bunch of Grapes"
Tavern in Boston and decided that it would be to their advantage
to exchange for land in the Seven Ranges the paper certificates
in which they had been paid for their military services.
Accordingly an "Ohio Company" was organized, and Dr. Manasseh
Cutler--"preacher, lawyer, doctor, statesman, scientist, land
speculator"--was sent off to New York to push the matter in
Congress. The upshot was that Congress authorized the sale of one
and a half million acres east of the Scioto to the Ohio Company,
and five million acres to a newly organized Scioto Company.

The Scioto Company fell into financial difficulties and, after
making an attempt to build up a French colony at Gallipolis,
collapsed. But General Putnam and his associates kept their
affairs well in hand and succeeded in planting the first legal
white settlement in the present State of Ohio. An arduous winter
journey brought the first band of forty-eight settlers, led by
Putnam himself, to the mouth of the Muskingum on April 7, 1788.
Here, in the midst of a great forest dotted with terraces, cones,
and other fantastic memorials of the mound-builders, they erected
a blockhouse and surrounded it with cabins. For a touch of the
classical, they called the fortification the Campus Martius; to
be strictly up to date, they named the town Marietta, after Marie
Antoinette, Queen of France. In July the little settlement was
honored by being made the residence of the newly arrived Governor
of the Territory, General Arthur St. Clair. Before the close of
the year Congress sold one million acres between the two Miamis
to Judge Symmes of New Jersey; and three little towns were at
once laid out. To one of them a pedantic schoolmaster gave the
name L-os-anti-ville, "the town opposite the mouth of the
Licking." The name may have required too much explanation; at all
events, when, in 1790, the Governor transferred the capital
thither from Marietta, he rechristened the place Cincinnati, in
honor of the famous Revolutionary society to which he belonged.

Land speculators are confirmed optimists. But Putnam, Cutler,
Symmes, and their associates were correct in believing that the
Ohio country was at the threshold of a period of remarkable
development. There was one serious obstacle--the Indians.
Repeated expeditions from Kentucky had pushed most of the tribes
northward to the headwaters of the Miami, Scioto, and Wabash; and
the Treaty of 1785 was supposed to keep them there. But it was
futile to expect such an arrangement to prove lasting unless
steadily backed up with force. In their squalid villages in the
swampy forests of northern Ohio and Indiana the redskins grew
sullen and vindictive. As they saw their favorite hunting-grounds
slipping from their grasp, those who had taken part in the
cession repented their generosity, while those who had no part in
it pronounced it fraudulent and refused to consider themselves
bound by it. Swiftly the idea took hold that the oncoming wave
must be rolled back before it was too late. "White man shall not
plant corn north of the Ohio" became the rallying cry.

Back of this rebelliousness lay a certain amount of British
influence. The Treaty of 1783 was signed in as kindly spirit as
the circumstances would permit, but its provisions were not
carried out in a charitable manner. On account of alleged
shortcomings of the United States, the British Government long
refused to give up possession of eight or ten fortified posts in
the north and west. One of these was Detroit; and the officials
stationed there systematically encouraged the hordes of redskins
who had congregated about the western end of Lake Erie to make
all possible resistance to the American advance. The British no
longer had any claim to the territories south of the Lakes, but
they wanted to keep their ascendancy over the northwestern
Indians, and especially to prevent the rich fur trade from
falling into American hands. Ammunition and other supplies were
lavished on the restless tribes. The post officials insisted that
these were merely the gifts which had regularly been made in
times of peace. But they were used with deadly effect against the
Ohio frontiersmen; and there can be little doubt that they were
intended so to be used.

By 1789 the situation was very serious. Marauding expeditions
were growing in frequency; and a scout sent out by Governor St.
Clair came back with the report that most of the Indians
throughout the entire Northwest had "bad hearts." Washington
decided that delay would be dangerous, and the nation forthwith
prepared for its first war since independence. Kentucky was asked
to furnish a thousand militiamen and Pennsylvania five hundred,
and the forces were ordered to come together at Fort Washington,
near Cincinnati.

The rendezvous took place in the summer of 1790, and General
Josiah Harmar was put in command of a punitive expedition against
the Miamis. The recruits were raw, and Harmar was without the
experience requisite for such an enterprise. None the less, when
the little army, accompanied by three hundred regulars, and
dragging three brass field-pieces, marched out of Fort Washington
on a fine September day, it created a very good impression. All
went well until the expedition reached the Maumee country. On the
site of the present city of Fort Wayne they destroyed a number of
Indian huts and burned a quantity of corn. But in a series of
scattered encounters the white men were defeated, with a loss of
nearly two hundred killed; and Harmar thought it the part of
wisdom to retreat. He had gained nothing by the expedition; on
the contrary, he had stirred the redskins to fresh aggressions,
and his retreating forces were closely followed by bands of
merciless raiders.

Washington knew what the effect of this reverse would be.
Accordingly he called St. Clair to Philadelphia and ordered him
to take personal command of a new expedition, adding a special
warning against ambush and surprise. Congress aided by voting two
thousand troops for six months, besides two small regiments of
regulars. But everything went wrong. Recruiting proved slow; the
men who were finally brought together were poor material for an
army, being gathered chiefly from the streets and prisons of the
seaboard cities; and supplies were shockingly inadequate.

St. Clair was a man of honest intention, but old, broken in
health, and of very limited military ability; and when finally,
October 4, 1791, he led his untrained forces slowly northwards
from Fort Washington, he utterly failed to take measures either
to keep his movements secret or to protect his men against sudden
attack. The army trudged slowly through the deep forests,
chopping out its own road, and rarely advancing more than five or
six miles a day. The weather was favorable and game was abundant,
but discontent was rife and desertions became daily occurrences.
As most of the men had no taste for Indian warfare and as their
pay was but two dollars a month, not all the commander's threats
and entreaties could hold them in order.

On the night of the 3d of November the little army--now reduced
to fourteen hundred men--camped, with divisions carelessly
scattered, on the eastern fork of the Wabash, about a hundred
miles north of Cincinnati and near the Indiana border. The next
morning, when preparations were being made for a forced march
against some Indian villages near by, a horde of redskins burst
unexpectedly upon the bewildered troops, surrounded them, and
threatened them with utter destruction. A brave stand was made,
but there was little chance of victory. "After the first on set,"
as Roosevelt has described the battle, "the Indians fought in
silence, no sound coming from them save the incessant rattle of
their fire, as they crept from log to log, from tree to tree,
ever closer and closer. The soldiers stood in close order, in the
open; their musketry and artillery fire made a tremendous noise,
but did little damage to a foe they could hardly see. Now and
then through the hanging smoke terrible figures flitted, painted
black and red, the feathers of the hawk and eagle braided in
their long scalp-locks; but save for these glimpses, the soldiers
knew the presence of their somber enemy only from the fearful
rapidity with which their comrades fell dead and wounded in the
ranks."

At last, in desperation St. Clair ordered his men to break
through the deadly cordon and save themselves as best they could.
The Indians kept up a hot pursuit for a distance of four miles.
Then, surfeited with slaughter, they turned to plunder the
abandoned camp; otherwise there would have been escape for few.
As it was, almost half of the men in the engagement were killed,
and less than five hundred got off with no injury. The survivors
gradually straggled into the river settlements, starving and
disheartened.

The page on which is written the story of St. Clair's defeat is
one of the gloomiest in the history of the West. Harmar's
disaster was dwarfed; not since Braddock and his regulars were
cut to pieces by an unseen foe on the road to Fort Duquesne had
the redskins inflicted upon their hereditary enemy a blow of such
proportions. It was with a heavy heart that the Governor
dispatched a messenger to Philadelphia with the news. Congress
ordered an investigation; and in view of the unhappy general's
high character and his courageous, though blundering, conduct
during the late campaign, he was exonerated. He retained the
governorship, but prudently resigned his military command.

The situation was now desperate. Everywhere the forests resounded
with the exultant cries of the victors, while the British from
Detroit and other posts actively encouraged the belief not only
that they would furnish all necessary aid but that England
herself was about to declare war on the United States. Eventually
a British force from Detroit actually invaded the disputed
country and built a stockade (Fort Miami) near the site of the
present city of Toledo, with a view to giving the redskins
convincing evidence of the seriousness of the Great White
Father's intentions. Small wonder that, when St. Clair sought to
obtain by diplomacy the settlement which he had failed to secure
by arms, his commissioners were met with the ultimatum:
"Brothers, we shall be persuaded that you mean to do us justice,
if you agree that the Ohio shall remain the boundary line between
us. If you will not consent thereto, our meeting will be
altogether unnecessary."

It is said that Washington's first choice for the new western
command was "Light-Horse Harry" Lee. But considerations of rank
made the appointment inexpedient, and "Mad Anthony" Wayne was
named instead. Wayne was the son of a Pennsylvania frontiersman
and came honestly by his aptitude for Indian fighting. In early
life he was a surveyor, and in the Revolution he won distinction
as a dashing commander of Pennsylvania troops at Ticonderoga,
Brandywine, Germantown, Stony Point, and other important
engagements. Finally he obtained a major-general's commission in
Greene's campaign in Georgia, and at the close of the war he
settled in that State as a planter. His vanity--displayed chiefly
in a love of fine clothes--brought upon him a good deal of
criticism; and Washington, who in a Cabinet meeting characterized
him as "brave and nothing else," was frankly apprehensive lest in
the present business Wayne's impetuosity should lead to fresh
disaster. Yet the qualities that on a dozen occasions had enabled
Wayne to snatch success from almost certain defeat--alertness,
decisiveness, bravery, and sheer love of hard fighting--were
those now chiefly in demand.

The first task was to create an army. A few regulars were
available; but most of the three or four thousand men who were
needed had to be gathered wheresoever they could be found. A call
for recruits brought together at Pittsburgh, in the summer of
1792, a nondescript lot of beggars, criminals, and other
cast-offs of the eastern cities, no better and no worse than the
adventurers who had taken service under St. Clair. Few knew
anything of warfare, and on one occasion a mere report of Indians
in the vicinity caused a third of the sentinels to desert their
posts. But, as rigid discipline was enforced and drilling was
carried on for eight and ten hours a day, by spring the survivors
formed a very respectable body of troops. The scene of operations
was then transferred to Fort Washington, where fresh recruits
were started on a similar course of development. Profitting by
the experience of his predecessors, Wayne insisted that
campaigning should begin only after the troops were thoroughly
prepared; and no drill-master ever worked harder to get his
charges into condition for action. Going beyond the ordinary
manual of arms, he taught the men to load their rifles while
running at full speed, and to yell at the top of their voices
while making a bayonet attack.

In October, 1793, the intrepid Major-General advanced with
twenty-six hundred men into the nearer stretches of the Indian
country, in order to be in a position for an advantageous spring
campaign. They built Fort Greenville, eighty miles north of
Cincinnati, and there spent the winter, while, on St. Clair's
fatal battle-field, an advance detachment built a post which they
hopefully christened Fort Recovery. Throughout the winter
unending drill was kept up; and when, in June, 1794, fourteen
hundred mounted militia arrived from Kentucky, Wayne found
himself at the head of the largest and best-trained force that
had ever been turned against the Indians west of the Alleghanies.
Even before the arrival of the Kentuckians, it proved its worth
by defending its forest headquarters, with practically no loss,
against an attack by fifteen hundred redskins.

On the 27th of July the army moved forward in the direction of
the Maumee, with closed ranks and so guarded by scouts that no
chance whatever was given for surprise attacks. Washington's
admonitions had been taken to heart, and the Indians could only
wonder and admire. News of the army's advance traveled ahead and
struck terror through the northern villages, so that many of the
inhabitants fled precipitately. When the troops reached the
cultivated lands about the junction of the Maumee and Auglaize
rivers, they found only deserted huts and great fields of corn,
from which they joyfully replenished their diminished stores.
Here a fort was built and given the significant name Defiance;
and from it a final offer of peace was sent out to the hostile
tribes. Never doubting that the British would furnish all
necessary aid, the chieftains returned evasive answers. Wayne
thereupon moved his troops to the left bank of the Maumee and
proceeded cautiously downstream toward the British stronghold at
Fort Miami.

A few days brought the army to a place known as Fallen Timbers,
where a tornado had piled the trunks and branches of mighty trees
in indescribable confusion. The British post was but five or six
miles distant; and there behind the breastworks which nature had
provided, and in easy reach of their allies, the Indians chose to
make their stand. On the morning of the 20th of August, Wayne,
now so crippled by gout that he had to be lifted into his saddle,
gallantly led an assault. The Indian fire was murderous, and a
battalion of mounted Kentuckians was at first hurled back. But
the front line of infantry rushed up and dislodged the savages
from their covert, while the regular cavalry on the right charged
the enemy's left flank. Before the second line of infantry could
get into action the day was won. The whole engagement lasted less
than three-quarters of an hour, and not a third of Wayne's three
thousand men actually took part in it.

The fleeing redskins were pursued to the walls of the British
fort, and even there many were slain. The British soldiery not
only utterly failed to come to the relief of their hard-pressed
allies, but refused to open the gates to give them shelter. The
American loss was thirty-three killed and one hundred wounded.
But the victory was the most decisive as yet gained over the
Indians of the Northwest. A warfare of forty years was ended in
as many minutes.

>From the lower Maumee, Wayne marched back to Fort Defiance, and
thence to the junction of the St. Mary's and St. Joseph rivers,
where he built a fort and gave it the name still borne by the
thriving city that grew up around it--Fort Wayne. Everywhere the
American soldiers destroyed the ripened crops and burned the
villages, while the terrified inhabitants fled. In November the
army took up winter quarters at Fort Greenville.

At last the Americans had the upper hand. Their arms were feared;
the British promises of help were no longer credited by the
Indians; and it was easy for Wayne to convince the tribal
representatives who visited him in large numbers during the
winter that their true interest was to win the good-will of the
United States. In the summer of 1795 there was a general
pacification. Delegation after delegation arrived at Fort
Greenville, until more than a thousand chiefs and braves were in
attendance. The prestige of Wayne was still further increased
when the news came that John Jay had negotiated a treaty at
London under which the British posts on United States soil were
finally to be given up; and on August 3rd Wayne was able to
announce a great treaty wherein the natives ceded all of what is
now southern Ohio and southeastern Indiana, and numerous tracts
around posts within the Indian country, such as Fort Wayne,
Detroit, and Michilimackinac--strategic points on the western
waterways. "Elder Brother," said a Chippewa chief in the course
of one of the interminable harangues delivered during the
negotiation, "you asked who were the true owners of the land now
ceded to the United States. In answer, I tell you, if any nations
should call themselves the owners of it, they would be guilty of
falsehood; our claim to it is equal; our Elder Brother has
conquered it." The United States duly recognized the Indian title
to all lands not expressly ceded and promised the Indians annual
subsidies. The terms of the treaty were faithfully observed on
both sides, and for fifteen years the pioneer lived and toiled in
peace.

Wayne forthwith became a national hero. Returning to Philadelphia
in 1796, he was met by a guard of honor, hailed with the ringing
of bells and a salute of fifteen guns, and treated to a dazzling
display of fireworks. Congress voted its thanks, and Washington,
whose fears had long since vanished, added his congratulations.
There was one other service on the frontier for the doughty
general to render. The British posts were at last to be
surrendered, and Wayne was designated to receive them. By
midsummer he was back in the forest country, and in the autumn he
took possession of Detroit, amid acclamations of Indians,
Americans, Frenchmen, and Englishmen alike. But his work was
done. On the return journey he suffered a renewed attack of his
old enemy, gout, and at Presqu'isle (Erie) he died. A blockhouse
modeled on the defenses which he built during his western
campaign marks his first resting-place and bears aloft the flag
which he helped plant in the heart of the Continent.



Chapter VI. The Great Migration

While the fate of the Northwest still hung in the balance,
emigration from the eastern States became the rage. "Every small
farmer whose barren acres were covered with mortgages, whose
debts pressed heavily upon him, or whose roving spirit gave him
no peace, was eager to sell his homestead for what it would bring
and begin life anew on the banks of the Muskingum or the Ohio."*
Land companies were then just as optimistic and persuasive as
they are today, and the attractions of the western country lost
nothing in the telling. Pamphlets described the climate as
luxurious, the soil as inexhaustible, the rainfall as both
abundant and well distributed, the crops as unfailingly
bountiful; paid agents went among the people assuring them that a
man of push and courage could nowhere be so prosperous and so
happy as in the West.

* McMaster, "History of the People of the United States," vol.
III, p. 461.


As early as 1787 an observer at Pittsburgh reported that in six
weeks he saw fifty flatboats set off for the downriver
settlements; in 1788 forty-five hundred emigrants were said to
have passed Fort Harmar between February and June. Most of these
people were bound for Kentucky or Tennessee. But the census of
1790 gave the population north of the Ohio as 4,280, and after
Wayne's victory the proportion of newcomers who fixed their
abodes in that part of the country rapidly increased. For a
decade Ohio was the favorite goal; and within eight years after
the battle at Fallen Timbers this region was ready for admission
to the Union as a State. Southern Indiana also filled rapidly.

For a time the westward movement was regarded as of no
disadvantage to the seaboard States. It was supposed that the
frontier would attract a population of such character as could
easily be spared in more settled communities. But it became
apparent that the new country did not appeal simply to
broken-down farmers, bankrupts, and ne'er-do-wells. Robust and
industrious men, with growing families, were drawn off in great
numbers; and public protest was raised against the "plots to
drain the East of its best blood." Anti-emigration pamphlets were
scattered broadcast, and, after the manner of the day, the
leading western enterprises were belabored with much bad verse. A
rude cut which gained wide circulation represented a stout,
ruddy, well-dressed man on a sleek horse, with a label, "I am
going to Ohio," meeting a pale and ghastly skeleton of a man, in
rags, on the wreck of what had once been a horse, with the label,
"I have been to Ohio."

The streams of migration flowed from many sources. New England
contributed heavily. Marietta, Cincinnati, and many other rising
river towns received some of the best blood of that remote
section. The Western Reserve--a tract bordering on Lake Erie
which Connecticut had not ceded to the Federal Government--drew
largely from the Nutmeg State. A month before Wayne set out to
take possession of Detroit, Moses Cleaveland with a party of
fifty Connecticut homeseekers started off to found a settlement
in the Reserve; and the town which took its name from the leader
was but the first of a score which promptly sprang up in this
inviting district. The "Seven Ranges," lying directly south of
the Reserve, drew emigrants from Pennsylvania, with some from
farther south. The Scioto valley attracted chiefly Virginians,
who early made Chillicothe their principal center. In the west,
and north of the Symmes tract, Kentuckians poured in by the
thousands.

Thus in a decade Ohio became a frontier melting-pot. Puritan,
Cavalier, Irishman, Scotch-Irishman, German--all were poured into
the crucible. Ideals clashed, and differing customs grated
harshly. But the product of a hundred years of cross-breeding was
a splendid type of citizenship. At the presidential inaugural
ceremonies of March 4, 1881, six men chiefly attracted the
attention of the crowd: the retiring President, Hayes; the
incoming President, Garfield; the Chief-Justice who administered
the oath, Waite; the general commanding the army, William T.
Sherman; the ex-Secretary of the Treasury, John Sherman; and "the
Marshal Ney of America," Lieutenant-General Sheridan. Five of the
six were natives of Ohio, and the sixth was a lifelong resident.
Men commented on the striking group and rightly remarked that it
could have been produced only by a singularly happy blending of
the ideas and ideals that form the warp and woof of Americanism.

Amalgamation, however, took time; for there were towering
prejudices and antipathies to be overcome. The Yankee scorned the
Southerner, who reciprocated with a double measure of dislike.
The New England settlers were, as a rule, people of some
education; not one of their communities long went without a
schoolmaster. They were pious, law-abiding, industrious; their
more easygoing neighbors were likely to consider them over-
sensitive and critical. But the quality that made most impression
upon others was their shrewdness in business transactions. They
could drive a bargain and could discover loopholes in a contract
in a fashion to take the average backwoodsman off his feet.
"Yankee tricks" became, indeed, a household phrase wherever New
Englander and Southerner met. Whether the Yankee talked or kept
silent, whether he was generous or parsimonious, he was always
under suspicion.

What of the "Long Knives" from Virginia, the Carolinas, and
Kentucky who also made the Ohio lands their goal? Of books they
knew little; they did not name their settlements in honor of
classic heroes. They were not "gentlemen"; many of them, indeed,
had sought the West to escape a society in which distinctions of
birth and possessions had put them at a disadvantage. They were
not so pious as the New Englanders, though they were capable of
great religious enthusiasm, and their morals were probably not
inferior. Their houses were poorer; their villages were not so
well kept; their dress was more uncouth, and their ways rougher.
But they were a hardy folk--brave, industrious, hospitable, and
generous to a fault.

In the first days of westward migration the favorite gateway into
the Ohio Valley was Cumberland Gap, at the southeastern corner of
the present State of Kentucky. Thence the Virginians and
Carolinians passed easily to the Ohio in the region of Cincinnati
or Louisville. Later emigrants from more northern States found
other serviceable routes. Until the opening of the Erie Canal in
1825, New Englanders reached the West by three main avenues. Some
followed the Mohawk and Genesee turnpikes across central New York
to Lake Erie. This route led directly, of course, to the Western
Reserve. Some traveled along the Catskill turnpike from the
Hudson to the headwaters of the Allegheny, and thence descended
the Ohio. Still others went by boat from Boston to New York,
Philadelphia, or Baltimore, in order to approach the Ohio by a
more southerly course.

The natural outlet from Pennsylvania was the Ohio River.
Emigrants from the western parts of the State floated down the
Allegheny or Monongahela to the main stream. Those from farther
east, including settlers from New Jersey, made the journey
overland by one of several well-known roads. The best of these
was a turnpike following the line that General Forbes had cut
during the French and Indian War from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh
by way of Lancaster and Bedford. Baltimore was a favorite point
of departure, and from it the route lay almost invariably along a
turnpike to Cumberland on the upper Potomac, and thence by the
National Road across the mountains to Wheeling. In later days
this was the route chiefly taken from Virginia, although more
southerly passes through the Blue Ridge were used as outlets to
the Great Kanawha, the Big Sandy, and other streams flowing into
the Ohio farther down.

Thus the lines of westward travel which in the East spread
fan-shape from Maine to Georgia converged on the Ohio; and that
stream became, and for half a century remained, the great pathway
of empire. Most of the emigrants had to cover long distances in
overland travel before they reached the hospitable waterway;
some, especially in earlier times, made the entire journey by
land. Hundreds of the very poor went afoot, carrying all their
earthly possessions on their backs, or dragging them in rude
carts. But the usual conveyance was the canvas-covered wagon--
ancestor of the "prairie schooner" of the western plains--drawn
over the rough and muddy roads by four, or even six, horses. In
this vehicle the emigrants stowed their provisions, household
furniture and utensils, agricultural implements, looms, seeds,
medicines, and every sort of thing that the prudent householder
expected to need, and for which he could find space. Extra horses
or oxen sometimes drew an additional load; cattle, and even
flocks of sheep, were occasionally driven ahead or behind by some
member of the family.

In the years of heaviest migration the highways converging on
Pittsburgh and Wheeling were fairly crowded with westward-flowing
traffic. As a rule several families, perhaps from the same
neighborhood in the old home, traveled together; and in any case
the chance acquaintances of the road and of the wayside inns
broke the loneliness of the journey. There were wonderful things
to be seen, and every day brought novel experiences. But exposure
and illness, dread of Indian attacks, mishaps of every sort, and
the awful sense of isolation and of uncertainty of the future,
caused many a man's stout heart to quail, and brought anguish
unspeakable to brave women. Of such joys and sorrows, however, is
a frontier existence compounded; and of the growing thousands who
turned their faces toward the setting sun, comparatively few
yielded to discouragement and went back East. Those who did so
were usually the land speculators and people of weak, irresolute,
or shiftless character.

An English traveler, Morris Birkbeck, who passed over the
National Road through southwestern Pennsylvania in 1817, was
filled with amazement at the number, hardihood, and determination
of the emigrants whom he encountered.

"Old America seems to be breaking up [he wrote] and moving
westward. We are seldom out of sight, as we travel on this grand
track, towards the Ohio, of family groups, behind and before 
us.... A small wagon (so light that you might almost carry it, 
yet strong enough to bear a good load of bedding, utensils and
provisions, and a swarm of young citizens--and to sustain
marvelous shocks in its passage over these rocky heights) with
two small horses; sometimes a cow or two, comprises their all;
excepting a little store of hard-earned cash for the land office
of the district; where they may obtain a title for as many acres
as they possess half-dollars, being one fourth of the purchase
money. The wagon has a tilt, or cover, made of a sheet, or
perhaps a blanket. The family are seen before, behind, or within
the vehicle, according to the road or the weather, or perhaps the
spirits of the party.... A cart and single horse frequently
affords the means of transfer, sometimes a horse and pack-saddle.
Often the back of the poor pilgrim bears all his effects, and his
wife follows, naked-footed, bending under the hopes of the
family."* 

* Quoted in Turner, "Rise of the New West," pp. 79-80.


Arrived at the Ohio, the emigrant either engaged passage on some
form of river-craft or set to work to construct with his own
hands a vessel that would bear him and his belongings to the
promised land. The styles of river-craft that appeared on the
Ohio and other western streams in the great era of river
migration make a remarkable pageant. There were canoes, pirogues,
skiffs, rafts, dugouts, scows, galleys, arks, keelboats,
flatboats, barges, "broadhorns," "sneak-boxes," and eventually
ocean-going brigs, schooners, and steamboats. The canoe served
the early explorer and trader, and even the settler whose
possessions had been carried over the Alleghanies on a single
packhorse. But after the Revolution the needs of an awakening
empire led to the introduction of new types of craft, built to
afford a maximum of capacity and safety on a downward voyage,
without regard for the demands of a round trip. The most common
of these one-way vessels was the flatboat.

A flatboat trip down the great river was likely to be filled with
excitement. The sound of the steam-dredge had never been heard on
the western waters, and the streambed was as Nature had made it,
or rather was continually remaking it. Yearly floods washed out
new channels and formed new reefs and sand-bars, while logs and
brush borne from the heavily forested banks continually built new
obstructions. Consequently the sharpest lookout had to be
maintained, and the pilot was both skilful and lucky who
completed his trip without permitting his boat to be caught on a
"planter" (a log immovably fixed in the river bed), entangled in
the branches of overhanging trees, driven on an island, or dashed
on the bank at a bend. Navigation by night and on foggy days was
hazardous in the extreme and was avoided as far as possible. If
all went well, the voyage from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati could be
completed in six or eight days; but delays might easily extend
the period to a month.

One grave danger has not been mentioned--the Indians. From the
moment when the slow-moving flatboat passed beyond the protection
of a white settlement, it was liable to be fired on, by day or by
night, by redskins; and the better-built boats were so
constructed as to be at least partially bullet-proof. Sometimes
extra timber was used to give safety; sometimes the cargo was
specially placed with that aim in view. The Indians rarely went
beyond the water's edge. Their favorite ruse was to cause captive
or renegade whites to run along the bank imploring to be saved.
When a boat had been decoyed to shore, and perhaps a landing had
been made, the savages would pour a murderous fire on the
voyagers. This practice became so common that pioneer boats
"shunned the whites who hailed them from the shores as they would
have shunned the Indians," and as a consequence many whites
escaping from the Indians in the interior were refused succor and
left to die.

When the flatboat reached its destination, it might find service
as a floating store, or even as a schoolhouse. But it was likely
to be broken up, so that the materials in it could be used for
building purposes. Before sawmills became common, lumber was a
precious commodity, and hundreds of pioneer cabins in the Ohio
Valley were built partly or wholly of the boards and timbers
taken from the flatboats of their owners. Even the "gunnels" were
sometimes used in Cincinnati as foundations for houses. In later
days the flatboat, if in reasonably good condition, was not
unlikely to be sold to persons engaged in trading down the
Mississippi. Loaded with grain, flour, meats, and other backwoods
products, it would descend to Natchez or New Orleans, where its
cargo could be transferred to ocean-going craft. But in any case
its end was the same; for it would not have been profitable, even
had it been physically possible, to move the heavy, ungainly
craft upstream over long distances, in order to keep it
continuously in service.



Chapter VII. Pioneer Days And Ways

Arrived on the lower Ohio, or one of its tributaries, the pioneer
looked out upon a land of remarkable riches. It was not a Mexico
or a Peru, with emblazoned palaces and glittering temples, nor
yet a California, with gold-flecked sands. It was merely an
unending stretch of wooded hills and grassy plains, bedecked with
majestic forests and fructifying rivers and lakes. It had no
treasures save for the man of courage, industry, and patience;
but for such it held home, broad acres, liberty, and the coveted
opportunity for social equality and advancement.

The new country has been commonly thought of, and referred to by
writers on the history of the West, as a "wilderness"; and
offhand, one might suppose that the settlers were obliged
literally to hew their way through densely grown vegetation to
the spots which they selected for their homes. In point of fact,
there were great areas of upland--not alone in the prairie
country of northern Indiana and Illinois, but in the hilly
regions within a hundred miles of the Ohio--that were almost
treeless. On these unobstructed stretches grasses grew in
profusion; and here roamed great herds of herbivorous
animal-kind--deer and elk, and also buffalo, "filing in grave
procession to drink at the rivers, plunging and snorting among
the rapids and quicksands, rolling their huge bulk on the grass,
rushing upon each other in hot encounter, like champions under
shield." Along the watercourses ducks, wild geese, cranes,
herons, and other fowl sounded their harsh cries; gray squirrels,
prairie chickens, and partridges the hunter found at every turn.

Furthermore, the forests, as a rule, were not difficult to
penetrate. The trees stood thick, but deer paths, buffalo roads,
and Indian trails ramified in all directions, and sometimes were
wide enough to allow two or three wagons to advance abreast.
Mighty poplars, beeches, sycamores, and "sugars" pushed to great
heights in quest of air and sunshine, and often their
intertwining branches were locked solidly together by a heavy
growth of grape or other vines, producing a canopy which during
the summer months permitted scarcely a ray of sunlight to reach
the ground. There was, therefore, a notable absence of
undergrowth. When a tree died and decayed, it fell apart
piecemeal; it was with difficulty that woodsmen could wrest a
giant oak or poplar from its moorings and bring it to the ground,
even by severing the trunk completely at the base. Here and there
a clean swath was cut through a forest, for perhaps dozens of
miles, by a hurricane. This gave opportunity for the growth of a
thicket of bushes and small trees, and such spots were equally
likely to be the habitations of wild beasts and the hiding-places
of warlike bands of redskins.

There were always adventurous pioneers who scorned the
settlements and went off with their families to fix their abodes
in isolated places. But the average newcomer preferred to find a
location in, or reasonably near, a settlement. The choice of a
site, whether by a company of immigrants wishing to establish a
settlement or by an individual settler, was a matter of much
importance. Some thought must be given to facilities for
fortification against hostile natives. There must be an adequate
supply of drinking-water; and the location of innumerable pioneer
dwellings was selected with reference to free-flowing springs.
Pasture land for immediate use was desirable; and of course the
soil must be fertile. As a rule, the settler had the alternative
of establishing himself on the lowlands along a stream and
obtaining ground of the greatest productiveness, with the almost
certain prospect of annual attacks of malaria, or of seeking the
poorer but more healthful uplands. The attractions of the
"bottoms" were frequently irresistible, and the "ague" became a
feature of frontier life almost as inevitable as the proverbial
"death and taxes."

The site selected, the next task was to clear a few acres of
ground where the cabin was to stand. It was highly desirable to
have a belt of open land as a protection against Indians and wild
beasts; besides, there must be fields cleared for tillage. If the
settler had neighbors, he was likely to have their aid in cutting
away the densest growth of trees, and in raising into position
the heavy timbers which formed the framework and walls of his
cabin. Splendid oaks, poplars, and sycamores were cut into
convenient lengths, and such as could not be used were rolled
into great heaps and burned. Before sawmills were introduced
lumber could not be manufactured; afterwards, it became so
plentiful as to have small market value.

Almost without exception the frontier cabins had log walls; and
they were rarely of larger size than single lengths would permit.
On an average, they were twelve or fourteen feet wide and fifteen
or eighteen feet long. Sometimes they were divided into two
rooms, with an attic above; frequently there was but one room
"downstairs." The logs were notched together at the corners, and
the spaces between them were filled with moss or clay or covered
with bark. Rafters were affixed to the uppermost logs, and to one
another, with wooden pins driven through auger holes. In earliest
times the roof was of bark; later on, shingles were used,
although nails were long unknown, and the shingles, after being
laid in rows, were weighted down with straight logs.

Sometimes there was only an earth floor. But as a rule
"puncheons," i.e., thick, rough boards split from logs, were laid
crosswise on round logs and were fastened with wooden pins. There
was commonly but a single door, which was made also of puncheons
and hung on wooden hinges. A favorite device was to construct the
door in upper and lower sections, so as to make it possible, when
there came a knock or a call from the outside, to respond without
offering easy entrance to an unwelcome visitor. In the days when
there was considerable danger of Indian attacks no windows were
constructed, for the householder could defend only one aperture.
Later, square holes which could be securely barred at night and
during cold weather were made to serve as windows. Flat pieces of
sandstone, if they could be found, were used in building the
great fireplace; otherwise, thick timbers heavily covered with
clay were made to serve. In scarcely a cabin was there a trace of
iron or glass; the whole could be constructed with only two
implements--an ax and an auger.

Occasionally a family carried to its new home some treasured bits
of furniture; but the difficulty of transportation was likely to
be prohibitive, and as a rule the cabins contained only such
pieces of furniture as could be fashioned on the spot. A table
was made by mounting a smoothed slab on four posts, set in auger
holes. For seats short benches and three-legged stools,
constructed after the manner of the tables, were in common use.
Cooking utensils, food-supplies, seeds, herbs for medicinal
purposes, and all sorts of household appliances were stowed away
on shelves, made by laying clapboards across wooden pins driven
into the wall and mounting to the ceiling; although after sawed
lumber came into use it was a matter of no great difficulty to
construct chests and cupboards. Not infrequently the settler's
family slept on bear skins or blankets stretched on the floor.
But crude bedsteads were made by erecting a pole with a fork in
such a manner that other poles could be supported horizontally in
this fork and by crevices in the walls. Split boards served as
"slats" on which the bedding was spread. For a long time
"straw-ticks"--large cloth bags filled with straw or sometimes
dry grass or leaves--were articles of luxury. Iron pots and
knives were necessities which the wise householder carried with
him from his eastern or southern home. In the West they were hard
to obtain. The chief source of supply was the iron-manufacturing
districts of Pennsylvania and Virginia, whence the wares were
carried to the entrepots of river trade by packhorses. The
kitchen outfit of the average newcomer was completed with a few
pewter dishes, plates, and spoons. But winter evenings were
utilized in whittling out wooden bowls, trenchers, and noggins or
cups, while gourds and hard-shelled squashes were turned to
numerous uses. The commonest drinking utensil was a long-handled
gourd.

The dress of the pioneer long remained a curious cross between
that of the Indians and that of the white people of the older
sections. In earlier times the hunting-shirt--made of linsey,
coarse nettle-bark linen, buffalo-hair, or even dressed
deerskins--was universally worn by the men, together with
breeches, leggings, and moccasins. The women and children were
dressed in simple garments of linsey. In warm weather they went
barefooted; in cold, they wore moccasins or coarse shoes.

Rarely was there lack of food for these pioneer families. The
soil was prodigal, and the forests abounded in game. The piece de
resistance of the backwoods menu was "hog an' hominy"; that is to
say, pork served with Indian corn which, after being boiled in
lye to remove the hulls, had been soaked in clear water and
cooked soft. "Johnny cake" and "pone"--two varieties of
cornbread--were regularly eaten at breakfast and dinner. The
standard dish for supper was cornmeal mush and milk. As cattle
were not numerous, the housewife often lacked milk, in which case
she fell back on her one never-failing resource--hominy; or she
served the mush with sweetened water, molasses, the gravy of
fried meat, or even bear's oil. Tea and coffee were long unknown,
and when introduced they were likely to be scorned by the men as
"slops" good enough perhaps for women and children. Vegetables
the settlers grew in the garden plot which ordinarily adjoined
the house, and thrifty families had also a "truck patch" in which
they raised pumpkins, squashes, potatoes, beans, melons, and corn
for "roasting ears." The forests yielded game, as well as fruits
and wild grapes, and honey for sweetening.

The first quality for which the life of the frontier called was
untiring industry. It was possible, of course, to eke out an
existence by hunting, fishing, petty trading, and garnering the
fruits which Nature supplied without man's assistance. And many
pioneers in whom the roving instinct was strong went on from year
to year in this hand-to-mouth fashion. But the settler who
expected to be a real home-builder, to gain some measure of
wealth, to give his children a larger opportunity in life, must
be prepared to work, to plan, to economize, and to sacrifice. The
forests had to be felled; the great logs had to be rolled
together and burned; crops of maize, tobacco, oats, and cane
needed to be planted, cultivated, and harvested; live-stock to be
housed and fed; fences and barns to be built; pork, beef, grain,
whiskey, and other products to be prepared for market, and
perhaps carried scores of miles to a place of shipment.

All these things had to be done under conditions of exceptional
difficulty. The settler never knew what night his place would be
raided by marauding redskins, who would be lenient indeed if they
merely carried off part of his cattle or burned his barn. Any
morning he might peer out of the "port hole" above the cabin door
to see skulking figures awaiting their chance. Sickness, too, was
a menace and a terror. Picture the horrors of isolation in times
of emergency--wife or child suddenly taken desperately ill, and
no physician within a hundred miles; husband or son hovering
between life and death as the result of injury by a falling tree,
a wild beast, a venomous snake, an accidental gun-shot, or the
tomahawk of a prowling Indian. Who shall describe the anxiety,
the agony, which in some measure must have been the lot of every
frontier family? The prosaic illnesses of the flesh were
troublesome enough. On account of defective protection for the
feet in wet weather, almost everybody had rheumatism; most
settlers in the bottom-lands fell victims to fever and ague at
one time or another; even in the hill country few persons wholly
escaped malarial disorders. "When this home-building and land-
clearing is accomplished," wrote one whose recollections of the
frontier were vivid, "a faithful picture would reveal not only
the changes that have been wrought, but a host of prematurely
brokedown men and women, besides an undue proportion resting
peacefully in country graveyards."

The frontiersman's best friend was his trusty rifle. With it he
defended his cabin and his crops from marauders, waged warfare on
hostile redskins, and obtained the game which formed an
indispensable part of his food supply. At first the gun chiefly
used on the border was the smooth-bored musket. But toward the
close of the eighteenth century a gunsmith named Deckhard, living
at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, began making flintlock rifles of
small bore, and in a short time the "Deckhard rifle" was to be
found in the hands of almost every backwoodsman. The barrel was
heavy and from three feet to three feet and a half in length, so
that the piece, when set on the ground, reached at least to the
huntsman's shoulder. The bore was cut with twisting grooves, and
was so small that seventy bullets were required to weigh a pound.
In loading, a greased linen "patch" was wrapped around the
bullet; and only a small charge of powder was needed. The grin
was heavy to carry and difficult to hold steadily upon a target;
but it was economical of ammunition, and in the hands of the
strong-muscled, keen-eyed, iron-nerved frontiersman it was an
exceedingly accurate weapon, at all events within the ordinary
limits of forest ranges. He was a poor marksman who could not
shoot running deer or elk at a distance of one hundred and fifty
yards, and kill ducks and geese on the wing; and "boys of twelve
hung their heads in shame if detected in hitting a squirrel in
any other part of the body than its head."

Life on the frontier was filled with hard work, danger, and
anxiety. Yet it had its lighter side, and, indeed, it may be
doubted whether people anywhere relished sport more keenly or
found more pleasure in their everyday pursuits. The occasional
family without neighbors was likely to suffer from loneliness.
But few of the settlers were thus cut off, and as a rule
community life was not only physically possible but highly
developed. Many were the opportunities that served to bring
together the frontiersmen, with their families, throughout a
settlement or county. Foremost among such occasions were the
log-rollings.

After a settler had felled the thick-growing trees on a plot
which he desired to prepare for cultivation, he cut them, either
by sawing or by burning, into logs twelve or fifteen feet in
length. Frequently these were three, four, or even five feet in
diameter, so that they could not be moved by one man, even with a
team of horses. In such a situation, the settler would send word
to his neighbors for miles around that on a given day there would
be a log-rolling at his place; and when the day arrived six, or a
dozen, or perhaps a score, of sturdy men, with teams of horses
and yokes of oxen, and very likely accompanied by members of
their families, would arrive on the scene with merry shouts of
anticipation. By means of handspikes and chains drawn by horses
or oxen, the great timbers were pushed, rolled, and dragged into
heaps, and by nightfall the field lay open and ready for the
plough--requiring, at the most, only the burning of the huge
piles that had been gathered.

Without loss of time the fires were started; and as darkness came
on, the countryside glowed as with the light of a hundred huge
torches. The skies were reddened, and as a mighty oak or poplar
log toppled and fell to the ground, showers of sparks lent the
scene volcanic splendor. Bats and owls and other dim-eyed
creatures of the night flew about in bewilderment, sometimes
bumping hard against fences or other objects, sometimes plunging
madly into the flames and contributing to the general holocaust.
For days the great fires were kept going, until the last remnants
of this section of the once imposing forest were consumed; while
smoke hung far out over the country, producing an atmospheric
effect like that of Indian summer.

Heavy exertion called for generous refreshment, and on these
occasions the host could be depended on to provide an abundance
of food and drink. The little cabin could hardly be made to
accommodate so many guests, even in relays. Accordingly, a long
table was constructed with planks and trestles in a shady spot,
and at noon--and perhaps again in the evening--the women folk
served a meal which at least made up in "staying qualities" what
it lacked in variety or delicacy. The principal dish was almost
certain to be "pot-pie," consisting of boiled turkeys, geese,
chickens, grouse, veal, or venison, with an abundance of
dumplings. This, with cornbread and milk, met the demands of the
occasion; but if the host was able to furnish a cask of rum, his
generosity was thoroughly appreciated.

In the autumn, corn-huskings were a favorite form of diversion,
especially for the young people; and in the early spring
neighbors sometimes came together to make maple sugar. A wedding
was an important event and furnished diversion of a different
kind. From distances of twenty and thirty miles people came to
attend the ceremony, and often the festivities extended over two
or three days. Even now there was work to be done; for as a rule
the neighbors organized a house-building "bee," and before
separating for their homes they constructed a cabin for the newly
wedded pair, or at all events brought it sufficiently near
completion to be finished by the young husband himself.

Even after a day of heavy toil at log-rolling, the young men and
boys bantered one another into foot races, wrestling matches,
shooting contests, and other feats of strength or skill. And if a
fiddler could be found, the day was sure to end with a
"hoe-down"--a dance that "made even the log-walled house
tremble." No corn-husking or wedding was complete without
dancing, although members of certain of the more straitlaced
religious sects already frowned upon the diversion.

Rough conditions of living made rough men, and we need not be
surprised by the testimony of English and American travelers,
that the frontier had more than its share of boisterous fun,
rowdyism, lawlessness, and crime. The taste for whiskey was
universal, and large quantities were manufactured in rude stills,
not only for shipment down the Mississippi, but for local
consumption. Frequenters of the river-town taverns called for
their favorite brands--"Race Horse," "Moral Suasion," "Vox
Populi," "Pig and Whistle," or "Split Ticket," as the case might
be. But the average frontiersman cared little for the niceties of
color or flavor so long as his liquor was cheap and produced the
desired effect. Hard work and a monotonous diet made him
continually thirsty; and while ordinarily he drank only water and
milk at home, at the taverns and at social gatherings he often
succumbed to potations which left him in happy drunken
forgetfulness of daily hardships. House-raisings and weddings
often became orgies marked by quarreling and fighting and
terminating in brutal and bloody brawls. Foreign visitors to the
back country were led to comment frequently on the number of men
who had lost an eye or an ear, or had been otherwise maimed in
these rough-and-tumble contests.

The great majority of the frontiersmen, however, were sober,
industrious, and law-abiding folk; and they were by no means
beyond the pale of religion. On account of the numbers of Scotch-
Irish, Presbyterianism was in earlier days the principal creed.
although there were many Catholics and adherents of the Reformed
Dutch and German churches, and even a few Episcopalians. About
the beginning of the nineteenth century sectarian ascendancy
passed to the Methodists and Baptists, whose ranks were rapidly
recruited by means of one of the most curious and characteristic
of backwoods institutions, the camp-meeting "revival." The years
1799 and 1800 brought the first of the several great waves of
religious excitement by which the West--especially Ohio, Indiana,
Kentucky, and Tennessee was periodically swept until within the
memory of men still living.

Camp-meetings were usually planned and managed by Methodist
circuit-riders or Baptist itinerant preachers, who hesitated not
to carry their work into the remotest and most dangerous parts of
the back country. When the news went abroad that such a meeting
was to take place, people flocked to the scene from far and near,
in wagons, on horseback, and on foot. Pious men and women came
for the sake of religious fellowship and inspiration; others not
so pious came from motives of curiosity, or even to share in the
rough sport for which the scoffers always found opportunity. The
meeting lasted days, and even weeks; and preaching, praying,
singing, "testifying," and "exhorting" went on almost without
intermission. "The preachers became frantic in their
exhortations; men, women, and children, falling as if in
catalepsy, were laid out in rows. Shouts, incoherent singing,
sometimes barking as of an unreasoning beast, rent the air.
Convulsive leaps and dancing were common; so, too, 'jerking,'
stakes being driven into the ground to jerk by, the subjects of
the fit grasping them as they writhed and grimaced in their
contortions. The world, indeed, seemed demented."* Whole
communities sometimes professed conversion; and it was considered
a particularly good day's work when notorious disbelievers or
wrong-doers--"hard bats," in the phraseology of the frontier--or
gangs of young rowdies whose only object in coming was to commit
acts of deviltry, succumbed to the peculiarly compelling
influences of the occasion.

* Hosmer, "Short History of the Mississippi Valley," p. 116.


In this sort of religion there was, of course, much wild
emotionalism and sheer hysteria; and there were always people to
whom it was repellent. Backsliders were numerous, and the person
who "fell from grace" was more than likely to revert to his
earlier wickedness in its grossest forms. None the less, in a
rough, unlearned, and materialistic society such spiritual
shakings-up were bound to yield much permanent good. Most western
people, at one time or another, came under the influence of the
Methodist and Baptist revivals; and from the men and women who
were drawn by them to a new and larger view of life were
recruited the hundreds of little congregations whose
meeting-houses in the course of time dotted the hills and plains
from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi. As for the hard-working,
honest-minded frontier preachers who braved every sort of danger
in the performance of their great task, the West owes them an
eternal debt of gratitude. In the words of Roosevelt, "their
prejudices and narrow dislikes, their raw vanity and sullen
distrust of all who were better schooled than they, count for
little when weighed against their intense earnestness and heroic
self-sacrifice."

Nor was education neglected. Many of the settlers, especially
those who came from the South, were illiterate. But all who made
any pretense of respectability were desirous of giving their
children an opportunity to learn to read and write. Accordingly,
wherever half a dozen families lived reasonably close together, a
log schoolhouse was sure to be found. In the days before public
funds existed for the support of education the teachers were paid
directly, and usually in produce, by the patrons. Sometimes a
wandering pedagogue would find his way into a community and,
being engaged to give instruction for two or three months during
the winter, would "board around" among the residents and take
such additional pay as he could get. More often, some one of the
settlers who was fortunate enough to possess the rudiments of an
education undertook the role of schoolmaster in the interval
between the autumn corn-gathering and the spring ploughing and
planting.

Instruction rarely extended beyond the three R's; but
occasionally a newcomer who had somewhere picked up a smattering
of algebra, Latin, or astronomy stirred the wonder, if not also
the suspicion, of the neighborhood. Schoolbooks were few and
costly; crude slates were made from pieces of shale; pencils were
fashioned from varicolored soapstone found in the beds of small
streams. No frontier picture is more familiar or more pleasing
than that of the farmer's boy sitting or lying on the floor
during the long winter evening industriously tracing by firelight
or by candlelight the proverb or quotation assigned him as an
exercise in penmanship, or wrestling with the intricacies of
least common denominators and highest common divisors. It is in
such a setting that we get our first glimpse of the greatest of
western Americans, Abraham Lincoln.



Chapter VIII. Tecumseh

Wayne's victory in 1795, followed by the Treaty of Fort
Greenville, gave the Northwest welcome relief from Indian
warfare, and within four years the Territory was ready to be
advanced to the second of the three grades of government provided
for it in the Ordinance of 1787. A Legislature was set up at
Cincinnati, and in due time it proceeded to the election of a
delegate to Congress. Choice fell on a young man whose name was
destined to a permanent place in the country's history. William
Henry Harrison was the son of a signer of the Declaration of
Independence, the scion of one of Virginia's most honored
families. Entering the army in 1791, he had served as an
aide-de-camp to Wayne in the campaign which ended at Fallen
Timbers, and at the time of his election was acting as Secretary
of the Territory and ex-officio Lieutenant-Governor.

Although but twenty-six years of age, and without a vote in the
House of Representatives, Harrison succeeded in procuring from
Congress in 1800 an act dividing the Territory into two distinct
"governments," separated by the old Greenville treaty line as far
as Fort Recovery and then by a line running due north to the
Canadian boundary. The division to the east was named Ohio, that
to the west Indiana; and Harrison was made Governor of the
latter, with his residence at Vincennes. In 1802 the development
of the back country was freshly emphasized by the admission of
Ohio as a State.

Meanwhile the equilibrium between the white man and the red again
became unstable. In the Treaty of 1795 the natives had ceded only
southern Ohio, southeastern Indiana, and a few other small and
scattered areas. Northward and westward, their country stretched
to the Lakes and the Mississippi, unbroken except by military
posts and widely scattered settlements; and title to all of this
territory had been solemnly guaranteed. As late as 1800 the white
population of what is now Indiana was practically confined to
Clark's Grant, near the falls of the Ohio, and a small region
around Vincennes. It numbered not more than twenty-five hundred
persons. But thereafter immigration from the seaboard States, and
from the nearer lands of Kentucky and Tennessee, set in on a new
scale. By 1810 Indiana had a white population of twenty-five
thousand, and the cabins of the energetic settlers dotted river
valleys and hillsides never before trodden by white man.

In this new rush of pioneers the rights of the Indians received
scant consideration. Hardy and well-armed Virginians and
Kentuckians broke across treaty boundaries and possessed
themselves of fertile lands to which they had no valid claim.
White hunters trespassed far and wide on Indian territory, until
by 1810 great regions, which a quarter of a century earlier
abounded in deer, bear, and buffalo, were made as useless for
Indian purposes as barren wastes. Although entitled to the
protection of law in his person and property, the native was
cheated and overawed at every turn; he might even be murdered
with impunity. Abraham Lincoln's uncle thought it a virtuous act
to shoot an Indian on sight, and the majority of pioneers agreed
with him.

"I can tell at once," wrote Harrison in 1801, "upon looking at an
Indian whom I may chance to meet whether he belongs to a
neighboring or a more distant tribe. The latter is generally
well-clothed, healthy, and vigorous; the former half-naked,
filthy, and enfeebled by intoxication, and many of them without
arms excepting a knife, which they carry for the most villainous
purposes." The stronger tribes perceived quite as clearly as did
the Governor the ruinous effects of contact between the two
peoples, and the steady destruction of the border warriors became
a leading cause of discontent. Congress had passed laws intended
to prevent the sale of spiritucus liquors to the natives, but the
courts had construed these measures to be operative only outside
the bounds of States and organized Territories, and in the great
unorganized Northwest the laws were not heeded, and the ruinous
traffic went on uninterrupted. Harrison reported that when there
were only six hundred warriors on the Wabash the annual
consumption of whiskey there was six thousand gallons, and that
killing each other in drunken brawls had "become so customary
that it was no longer thought criminal."

Most exasperating, however, from the red man's point of view was
the insatiable demand of the newcomers for land. In the years
1803, 1804, and 1805 Harrison made treaties with the remnants of
the Miami, Eel River, Piankeshaw, and Delaware tribes--
characterized by him as "a body of the most depraved wretches on
earth"--which gained for the settlers a strip of territory fifty
miles wide south of White River; and in 1809 he similarly
acquired, by the Treaty of Fort Wayne, three million acres, in
tracts which cut into the heart of the Indian country for almost
a hundred miles up both banks of the Wabash. The Wabash valley
was richer in game than any other region south of Lake Michigan,
and its loss was keenly felt by the Indians. Indeed, it was
mainly the cession of 1809 that brought once more to a crisis the
long-brewing difficulties with the Indians.

About the year 1768 the Creek squaw of a Shawnee warrior gave
birth at one time to three boys, in the vicinity of the present
city of Springfield, Ohio.* One of the three barely left his name
in aboriginal annals. A second, known as Laulewasikaw, "the man
with the loud voice," poses in the pages of history as "the
prophet." The third brother was Tecumseh, "the wild-cat that
leaps upon its prey," or "the shooting star," as the name has
been translated. He is described as a tall, handsome warrior--
daring and energetic, of fluent and persuasive speech, given to
deep reflection, an implacable hater of the white man. Other
qualities he possessed which were not so common among his people.
He had perfect self-command, a keen insight into human motives
and purposes, and an exceptional capacity to frame plans and
organize men to carry them out. His crowning scheme for bringing
together the tribes of the Middle West into a grand democratic
confederacy to regulate land cessions and other dealings with the
whites stamps him as perhaps the most statesmanlike member of his
race.

* Authorities differ as to the facts of Tecumseh's birth. His
earliest biographer, Benjamin Drake, holds that he was "wholly a
Shawanoe" and that he was a fourth child, the Prophet and another
son being twins. William Henry Harrison spoke of Tecumseh's
mother as a Creek.


While yet hardly more than a boy, Tecumseh seems to have been
stirred to deep indignation by the persistent encroachment of the
whites upon the hunting-grounds of his fathers. The cessions of
1804 and 1805 he specially resented, and it is not unlikely that
they clinched the decision of the young warrior to take up the
task which Pontiac had left unfinished. At all events, the plan
was soon well in hand. A less far-seeing leader would have been
content to call the scattered tribes to a momentary alliance with
a view to a general uprising against the invaders. But Tecumseh's
purposes ran far deeper. All of the Indian peoples, of whatever
name or relationships, from the Lakes to the Gulf and from the
Alleghanies to the Rockies, were to be organized in a single,
permanent confederacy. This union, furthermore, was to consist,
not of chieftains, but of the warriors; and its governing body
was to be a warriors' congress, an organ of genuine popular rule.
Joint ownership of all Indian lands was to be assumed by the
confederacy, and the piecemeal cession of territory by petty
tribal chiefs, under pressure of government agents, was to be
made impossible. Only thus, Tecumseh argued, could the red man
hope to hold his own in the uneven contest that was going on.

The plan was brilliant, even though impracticable. Naturally, it
did not appeal instantly to the chieftains, for it took away--
tribal independence and undermined the chieftain's authority.
Besides, its author was not a chief, and had no sanction of birth
or office. Its success was dependent on the building of an
intertribal association such as Indian history had never known.
And while there was nothing in it which contravened the professed
policy of the United States, it ran counter to the irrepressible
tendency of the advancing white population to spread at will over
the great western domain.

By these obstacles Tecumseh was not deterred. With indefatigable
zeal he traveled from one end of the country to the other,
arguing with chiefs, making fervid speeches to assembled
warriors, and in every possible manner impressing his people with
his great idea. The Prophet went with him; and when the orator's
logic failed to carry, conviction, the medicine-man's
imprecations were relied upon to save the day. Events, too,
played into their hands. The Leopard-Chesapeake affair,* in 1807,
roused strong feeling in the West and prompted the
Governor-General of Canada to begin intrigues looking to an
alliance with the redskins in the event of war. And when, late in
the same year, Governor Hull of Michigan Territory indiscreetly
negotiated a new land cession at Detroit, the northern tribes at
once joined Tecumseh's league, muttering threats to slay the
chiefs by whom the cession had been sanctioned.

* See "Jefferson and his Colleagues," by Allen Johnson (in "The
Chronicles of America").


In the spring of 1808 Tecumseh and his brother carried their
plans forward another step by taking up their residence at a
point in central Indiana where Tippecanoe Creek flows into the
Wabash River. The place--which soon got the name of the Prophet's
Town--was almost equidistant from Vincennes, Fort Wayne, and Fort
Dearborn; from it the warriors could paddle their canoes to any
part of the Ohio or the Mississippi, and with only a short
portage, to the waters of the Maumee and the Great Lakes. The
situation was, therefore, strategic. A village was laid out, and
the population was soon numbered by the hundred. Livestock was
acquired, agriculture was begun, the use of whiskey was
prohibited, and every indication was afforded of peaceful intent.

Seasoned frontiersmen, however, were suspicious. Reports came in
that the Tippecanoe villagers engaged daily in warlike exercises;
rumor had it that emissaries of the Prophet were busily stirring
the tribes, far and near, to rebellion. Governor Harrison was not
a man to be easily frightened, but he became apprehensive, and
proposed to satisfy himself by calling Tecumseh into conference.

The interview took place at Vincennes, and was extended over a
period of two weeks. There was a show of firmness, yet of good
will, on both sides. The Governor counseled peace, orderliness,
and industry; the warrior guest professed a desire to be a friend
to the United States, but said frankly that if the country
continued to deal with the tribes singly in the purchase of land
he would be obliged to ally himself with Great Britain. To
Harrison's admonition that the redskins should leave off drinking
whiskey--"that it was not made for them, but for the white
people, who alone knew how to use it"--the visitor replied
pointedly by asking that the sale of liquor be stopped.

Notwithstanding the tenseness of the situation, Harrison
negotiated the land cessions of 1809, which cost the Indians
their last valuable hunting-grounds in Indiana. The powerful
Wyandots promptly joined Tecumseh's league, and war was made
inevitable. Delay followed only because the Government at
Washington postponed the military occupation of the new purchase,
and because the British authorities in Canada, desiring
Tecumseh's confederacy to attain its maximum strength before the
test came, urged the redskins to wait.

For two more years--while Great Britain and the United States
hovered on the brink of war--preparations continued. Tribe after
tribe in Indiana and Illinois elected Tecumseh as their chief,
alliances reached to regions as remote as Florida. In 1810
another conference took place at Vincennes; and this time,
notwithstanding Harrison's request that not more than thirty
redskins should attend, four hundred came in Tecumseh's train,
fully armed.

"A large portico in front of the Governor's house [says a
contemporary account] had been prepared for the purpose with
seats, as well for the Indians as for the citizens who were
expected to attend. When Tecumseh came from his camp, with about
forty of his warriors, he stood off, and on being invited by the
Governor, through an interpreter, to take his seat, refused,
observing that he wished the council to be held under the shade
of some trees in front of the house. When it was objected that it
would be troublesome to remove the seats, he replied that 'it
would only be necessary to remove those intended for the whites--
that the red men were accustomed to sit upon the earth, which was
their mother, and that they were always happy to recline upon her
bosom.'"*

* James Hall, "Memoir of William Henry Harrison," pp. 113-114.


The chieftain's equivocal conduct aroused fresh suspicion, but he
was allowed to proceed with the oration which he had come to
deliver. Freely rendered, the speech ran, in part, as follows:

"I have made myself what I am; and I would that I could make the
red people as great as the conceptions of my mind, when I think
of the Great Spirit that rules over all. I would not then come to
Governor Harrison to ask him to tear the treaty [of 1809]; but I
would say to him, Brother, you have liberty to return to your own
country. Once there was no white man in all this country: then it
belonged to red men, children of the same parents, placed on it
by the Great Spirit to keep it, to travel over it, to eat its
fruits, and fill it with the same race--once a happy race, but
now made miserable by the white people, who are never contented,
but always encroaching. They have driven us from the great salt
water, forced us over the mountains, and would shortly push us
into the lakes--but we are determined to go no further. The only
way to stop this evil is for all red men to unite in claiming a
common and equal right in the land, as it was at first, and
should be now--for it never was divided, but belongs to all....
Any sale not made by all is not good."

In his reply Harrison declared that the Indians were not one
nation, since the Great Spirit had "put six different tongues
in their heads," and argued that the Indiana lands had been in
all respects properly bought from their rightful owners.
Tecumseh's blood boiled under this denial of his main contention,
and with the cry, "It is false," he gave a signal to his
warriors, who sprang to their feet and seized their war-clubs.
For a moment an armed clash was imminent. But Harrison's cool
manner enabled him to remain master of the situation, and a
well-directed rebuke sent the chieftain and his followers to
their quarters.

On the following morning Tecumseh apologized for his impetuosity
and asked that the conference be renewed. The request was
granted, and again the forest leader pressed for an abandonment
of the policy of purchasing land from the separate tribes.
Harrison told him that the question was for the President, rather
than for, him, to decide. "As the great chief is to determine the
matter," responded the visitor grimly, "I hope the Great Spirit
will put sense enough into his head to induce him to direct you
to give up this land. It is true he is so far off he will not be
injured by the war. He may sit still in his town, and drink his
wine, while you and I will have to fight it out."

Still the clash was averted. Once more, in the summer of 1811,
Tecumseh appeared at Vincennes, and again the deep issue between
the two peoples was threshed out as fruitlessly as before.
Announcing his purpose to visit the southern tribes to unite them
with those of the North in a peaceful confederacy, the chieftain
asked that during his absence all matters be left as they were,
and promised that upon his return he would go to see President
Madison and "settle everything with him."

Naturally, no pledge of the kind was given, and no sooner had
Tecumseh and twenty of his warriors started southward on their
mission to the Creeks than Harrison began preparations to end the
menace that had been so long hanging over the western country.
Troops were sent to Harrison; and volunteers were called for. As
fast as volunteers came in they were sent up to the Wabash to
take possession of the new purchase. Reinforcements arrived from
Pittsburgh and from Kentucky, and in a short while the Governor
was able to bring together at Fort Harrison, near the site of the
present city of Terre Haute, twenty-four companies of regulars,
militia, and Indians, aggregating about nine hundred well-armed
men.

Late in October this army, commanded by Harrison in person, set
forth for the destruction of the Tippecanoe rendezvous. On the
way stray redskins were encountered, but the advance was not
resisted, and to his surprise Harrison was enabled to lead his
forces unmolested to within a few hundred yards of the Prophet's
headquarters. Emissaries now came saying that the invasion was
wholly unexpected, professing peaceful intentions, and asking for
a parley. Harrison had no idea that anything could be settled by
negotiation, but he preferred to wait until the next day to make
an attack; accordingly he agreed to a council, and the army went
into camp for the night on an oak-covered knoll about a mile
northwest of the village. No entrenchments were thrown up, but
the troops were arranged in a triangle to conform to the contour
of the hill, and a hundred sentinels under experienced officers
were stationed around the camp-fires. The night was cold, and
rain fell at intervals, although at times the moon shone brightly
through the flying clouds.

The Governor was well aware of the proneness of the Indians to
early morning attacks, so that about four o'clock on the 7th of
November he rose to call the men to parade. He had barely pulled
on his boots when the forest stillness was broken by the crack of
a rifle at the farthest angle of the camp, and instantly the
Indian yell, followed by a fusillade, told that a general attack
had begun. Before the militiamen could emerge in force from their
tents, the sentinel line was broken and the red warriors were
pouring into the enclosure. Desperate fighting ensued, and when
time for reloading failed, it was rifle butt and bayonet against
tomahawk and scalping knife in hand-to-hand combat. For two hours
the battle raged in the darkness, and only when daylight came
were the troops able to charge the redskins, dislodge them from
behind the trees, and drive them to a safe distance in the
neighboring swamp. Sixty-one of Harrison's officers and men were
killed or mortally wounded; one hundred and twenty-seven others
suffered serious injury. The Governor himself probably owed his
life to the circumstance that in the confusion he mounted a bay
horse instead of his own white stallion, whose rider was shot
early in the contest.

The Indian losses were small, and for twenty-four hours
Harrison's forces kept their places, hourly expecting another
assault. "Night," wrote one of the men subsequently, "found every
man mounting guard, without food, fire, or light and in a
drizzling rain. The Indian dogs, during the dark hours, produced
frequent alarms by prowling in search of carrion about the
sentinels." There being no further sign of hostilities, early on
the 8th of November a body of mounted riflemen set out for the
Prophet's village, which they found deserted. The place had
evidently been abandoned in haste, for nothing--not even a fresh
stock of English guns and powder--had been destroyed or carried
off. After confiscating much-needed provisions and other
valuables, Harrison ordered the village to be burned. Then,
abandoning camp furniture and private baggage to make room in the
wagons for the wounded, he set out on the return trip to
Vincennes. A company was left at Fort Harrison, and the main
force reached the capital on the 18th of November.

Throughout the western country the news of the battle was
received with delight, and it was fondly believed that the
backbone of Tecumseh's conspiracy was broken. It was even
supposed that the indomitable chieftain and his brother would be
forthwith surrendered by the Indians to the authorities of the
United States. Harrison was acclaimed as a deliverer. The
legislatures of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois formally thanked
him for his services; and if, as his Federalist enemies charged,
he had planned the whole undertaking with a view to promoting his
personal fortunes, he ought to have been satisfied with the
result. It was the glamour of Tippecanoe that three decades
afterwards carried him into the President's chair.

In precipitating a clash while Tecumseh, the master-mind of the
fast-growing confederacy, was absent, the Prophet committed a
capital blunder. When reproached by his warriors, he declared
that all would have gone well but for the fact that on the night
before the battle his squaw had profanely touched the pot in
which his magic charms were brewed, so that the spell had been
broken! The explanation was not very convincing, and ominous
murmurings were heard. Before the end of the year, however, word
came to Vincennes that the crafty magician was back at
Tippecanoe, that the village had been rebuilt, and that the lives
of the white settlers who were pouring into the new purchase were
again endangered.

Still more alarming was the news of Tecumseh's return in January,
1812, from a very successful visit to the Creeks, Choctaws, and
Cherokees. He began by asking leave to make his long-projected
visit to Washington to obtain peace from the President, and he
professed deep regret for "the unfortunate transaction that took
place between the white people and a few of our young men at our
village." To the British agent at Amherstburg he declared that
had he been on the spot there would have been no fighting at
Tippecanoe. It is reasonable to suppose that in this case there
would have been, at all events, no Indian attack; for Tecumseh
was thoroughly in sympathy with the British plan, which was to
unite and arm the natives, but to prevent a premature outbreak.
The chieftain's presence, however, would hardly have deterred
Harrison from carrying out his decision to break up the
Tippecanoe stronghold.

The spring of 1812 brought an ominous renewal of depredations.
Two settlers were murdered within three miles of Fort Dearborn;
an entire family was massacred but five miles from Vincennes;
from all directions came reports of other bloody deeds. The
frontier was thrown into panic. A general uprising was felt to be
impending; even Vincennes was thought to be in danger. "Most of
the citizens of this country," reported Harrison, on the 6th of
May, "have abandoned their farms, and taken refuge in such
temporary forts as they have been able to construct. Scores fled
to Kentucky and to even more distant regions.

Tecumseh continued to assert his friendship for his "white
brothers" and to treat the battle at Tippecanoe as a matter of no
moment. The murders on the frontier he declared to be the work of
the Potawatomi, who were not under his control, and for whose
conduct he had no excuse. But it was noted that he made no move
to follow up his professed purpose to visit Washington in quest
of peace, and that he put forth no effort to restrain his
over-zealous allies. It was plain enough that he was simply
awaiting a signal from Canada, and that, as the commandant at
Fort Wayne tersely reported, if the country should have a war
with Great Britain, it must be prepared for an Indian war as
well.



Chapter IX. The War Of 1812 And The New West

The spring of 1812 thus found the back country in a turmoil, and
it was with a real sense of relief that the settlers became aware
of the American declaration of war against Great Britain on the
18th of June. More than once Governor Harrison had asked for
authority to raise an army with which to "scour" the Wabash
territory. In the fear that such a step would drive the redskins
into the arms of the British, the War Department had withheld its
consent. Now that the ban was lifted, the people could expect the
necessary measures to be taken for their defense. In no part of
the country was the war more popular; nowhere did the mass of the
able-bodied population show greater eagerness to take the field.

According to official returns, the Westerners were totally
unprepared for the contest. There were but five garrisoned posts
between the Ohio and the Canadian frontier. Fort Harrison had
fifty men, Fort Wayne eighty-five, Fort Dearborn fifty-three,
Fort Mackinac eighty-eight, and Detroit one hundred and twenty--a
total force of fewer than four hundred. The entire standing army
of the United States numbered but sixty-seven hundred men, and it
was obvious that the trans-Alleghany population would be obliged
to carry almost alone the burden of their own defense. The task
would not be easy; for General Brock, commanding in upper Canada,
had at least two thousand regulars and, as soon as hostilities
began, was joined by Tecumseh and many hundred redskins.

While the question of the war was still under debate in Congress,
President Madison made a requisition on Ohio for twelve hundred
militia, and in early summer the Governors of Indiana and
Illinois called hundreds of volunteers into service. Leaving
their families as far as possible under the protection of
stockades or of the towns, the patriots flocked to the
mustering-grounds; many, like Cincinnatus of old, deserted the
plough in midfield. Guns and ammunition in sufficient quantity
were lacking; even tents and blankets were often wanting. But
enthusiasm ran high, and only capable leadership was needed to
make of these frontier forces, once they were properly equipped,
a formidable foe.

The story of the leaders and battles of the war in the West has
been told in an earlier volume of this series.* It will be
necessary here merely to call to mind the stages through which
this contest passed, as a preliminary to a glimpse of the
conditions under which Westerners fought and of the new position
into which their section of the country was brought when peace
was restored. So far as the regions north of the Ohio were
concerned, the war developed two phases. The first began with
General William Hull's expedition from Ohio against Fort Malden
for the relief of Detroit, and it ended with the humiliating
surrender of that important post, together with the forced
abandonment of Forts Dearborn and Mackinac, so that the Wabash
and Maumee became, for all practical purposes, the country's
northern boundary. This was a story of complete and bitter
defeat. The second phase began likewise with a disaster--the
needless loss of a thousand men on the Raisin River, near
Detroit. Yet it succeeded in bringing William Henry Harrison into
chief command, and it ended in Commodore Perry's signal victory
on Lake Erie and Harrison's equally important defeat of the
disheartened British land forces on the banks of the Thames
River, north of the Lake. At this Battle of the Thames perished
Tecumseh, who in point of fact was the real force behind the
British campaigns in the West. Tradition describes him on the eve
of the battle telling his comrades that his last day had come,
solemnly stripping off his British uniform before going into
battle, and arraying himself in the fighting costume of his own
people.

* See "The Fight for a Free Sea," by Ralph D. Paine (in "The
Chronicles of America").


For two-thirds of the time, the war went badly for the
Westerners, and only at the end did it turn out to be a brilliant
success. The reasons for the dreary succession of disasters are
not difficult to discover. Foremost among them is the character
of the troops and officers. The material from which the regiments
were recruited was intrinsically good, but utterly raw and
untrained. The men could shoot well; they had great powers of
endurance; and they were brave. But there the list of their
military virtues ends.

The scheme of military organization relied upon throughout the
West was that of the volunteer militia. In periods of ordinary
Indian warfare the system served its purpose fairly well. Under
stern necessity, the self-willed, independence-loving
backwoodsmen could be brought to act together for a few weeks or
months; but they had little systematic training, and their
impatience of restraint prevented the building up of any real
discipline. There were periodic musters for company or regimental
drill. But, as a rule, drill duty was not taken seriously.
Numbers of men failed to report; and those who came were likely
to give most of their time to horse-races, wrestling-matches,
shooting contests--not to mention drinking and brawling--which
turned the occasion into mere merrymaking or disorder. The men
brought few guns, and when drills were actually held these
soldiers in the making contented themselves with parading with
cornstalks over their shoulders. "Cornstalk drill" thus became a
frontier epithet of derision. It goes without saying that these
troops were poorly officered. The captains and colonels were
chosen by the men, frequently with more regard for their
political affiliations or their general standing in the community
than for their capacity as military commanders; nor were the
higher officers, appointed by the chief executive of territory,
state, or nation, more likely to be chosen with a view to their
military fitness.

So it came about, as Roosevelt has said, that the frontier people
of the second generation "had no military training whatever, and
though they possessed a skeleton militia organization, they
derived no benefit from it, because their officers were
worthless, and the men had no idea of practising self-restraint
or obeying orders longer than they saw fit."* When the War of
1812 began, these backwoods troops were pitted against British
regulars who were powerfully supported by Indian allies. The
officers of these untrained American troops were, like Hull,
pompous, broken-down, political incapables; while to the men
themselves may fairly be applied Amos Kendall's disgusted
characterization of a Kentucky muster: "The soldiers are under no
more restraint than a herd of swine. Reasoning, remonstrating,
threatening, and ridiculing their officers, they show their sense
of equality and their total want of subordination." Not until the
very last of the war, when under Harrison's direction capable and
experienced officers drilled them into real soldiers, did these
backwoods stalwarts become an effective fighting force.

* "Winning of the West," vol. IV, p. 246.


There were also shortcomings of another sort. None was more
exasperating or costly than the lack of means of transportation.
Even in Ohio, the oldest and most settled portion of the
Northwest, roads were few and poor; elsewhere there were
practically none of any kind. But the regions in which the war
was carried on were far too sparsely populated to be able to
furnish the supplies, even the foodstuffs, needed by the troops;
and materials of every sort had to be transported from the East,
by river, lake, and wilderness trail. Up and down the great
unbroken stretches between the Ohio and the Lakes moved the
floundering supply trains in the vain effort to keep up with the
armies, or to reach camps or forts in time to avert starvation or
disaster. Pack-horses waded knee-deep in mud; wagons were dragged
through mire up to their hubs; even empty vehicles sometimes
became so embedded that they had to be abandoned, the drivers
being glad to get off with their horses alive. Many times a
quartermaster, taking advantage of a frost, would send off a
convoy of provisions, only to hear of its being swamped by a thaw
before reaching its destination. One of the tragedies of the war
was the suffering of the troops while waiting for supplies of
clothing, tents, medicines, and food which were stuck in swamps
or frozen up in rivers or lakes.

Beset with pleurisy, pneumonia, and rheumatism in winter, with
fevers in summer, and subject to attack by the Indians at all
times, these frontier soldiers led an existence of exceptional
hardship. Only the knowledge that they were fighting for their
freedom and their homes held them to their task. An interesting
sidelight on the conditions under which their work was done is
contained in the following extract from a letter written by a
volunteer in 1814:

"On the second day of our march a courier arrived from General
Harrison, ordering the artillery to advance with all possible
speed. This was rendered totally impossible by the snow which
took place, it being a complete swamp nearly all day. On the
evening of the same day news arrived that General Harrison had
retreated to Portage River, eighteen miles in the rear of the
encampment at the rapids. As many men as could be spared
determined to proceed immediately to re-enforce him.... At
two o'clock the next morning our tents were struck, and in half
an hour we were on the road. I will candidly confess that on that
day I regretted being a soldier. On that day we marched thirty
miles under an incessant rain; and I am afraid you will doubt my
veracity when I tell you that in eight miles of the best of the
road, it took us over the knees, and often to the middle. The
Black Swamp would have been considered impassable by all but men
determined to surmount every difficulty to accomplish the object
of their march. In this swamp you lose sight of terra firma
altogether--the water was about six inches deep on the ice, which
was very rotten, often breaking through to the depth of four or
five feet. The same night we encamped on very wet ground, but the
driest that could be found, the rain still continuing. It was
with difficulty we could raise fires; we had no tents; our
clothes were wet, no axes, nothing to cook with, and very little
to eat. A brigade of pack-horses being near us, we procured from
them some flour, killed a hog (there were plenty of THEM along
the road); our bread was baked in the ashes, and our pork we
broiled on the coals--a sweeter meal I never partook of. When we
went to sleep it was on two logs laid close to each other, to
keep our bodies from the damp ground. Good God! What a pliant
being is man in adversity.*

* Dawson. "William H. Harrison," p. 369.


The principal theater of war was the Great Lakes and the lands
adjacent to them. Prior to the campaign which culminated in
Jackson's victory at New Orleans after peace had been signed, the
Mississippi Valley had been untrodden by British soldiery. The
contest, none the less, came close home to the backwoods
populations. Scores of able-bodied men from every important
community saw months or years of toilsome service; many failed to
return to their homes, or else returned crippled, weakened, or
stricken with fatal diseases; crops were neglected, or had only
such care as could be given them by old men and boys; trade
languished; Indian depredations wrought further ruin to life and
property and kept the people continually in alarm. Until 1814,
reports of successive defeats, in both the East and West, had a
depressing influence and led to solemn speculation as to whether
the back country stood in danger of falling again under British
dominion.

It was, therefore, with a very great sense of relief that the
West heard in 1815 that peace had been concluded. At a stroke
both the British menace and the danger from the Indians were
removed; for although the redskins were still numerous and
discontented, their spirit of resistance was broken. Never again
was there a general uprising against the whites; never again did
the Northwest witness even a local Indian war of any degree of
seriousness save Black Hawk's Rebellion in 1832. Tecumseh
manifestly realized before he made his last stand at the Thames
that the cause of his people was forever lost.

For several years the unsettled conditions on the frontiers had
restrained any general migration thither from the seaboard
States. But within a few months after the proclamation of peace
the tide again set westward, and with an unprecedented force.
Men who had suffered in their property or other interests from
the war turned to Indiana and Illinois as a promising field in
which to rebuild their fortunes. The rapid extinction of Indian
titles opened up vast tracts of desirable land, and the
conditions of purchase were made so easy that any man of ordinary
industry and integrity could meet them. Speculators and promoters
industriously advertised the advantages of localities in which
they were interested, boomed new towns, and even loaned money to
ambitious emigrants.

The upshot was that the population of Indiana grew from
twenty-five thousand in 1810 to seventy thousand in 1816, when
the State was admitted to the Union. Illinois filled with equal
rapidity, and attained statehood only two years later. Then the
tide swept irresistibly westward across the Mississippi into the
great regions which had been acquired from France in 1803. As
late as 1819, the Territory of Missouri, comprising all of the
Louisiana Purchase north of the present State of Louisiana, had a
population of only twenty-two thousand, including many French and
Spanish settlers and traders. But in 1818 it had a population of
more than sixty thousand, and was asking Congress for legislation
under which the most densely inhabited portion should be set off
as the State of Missouri. Thus the Old Northwest was not merely
losing its frontier character and taking its place in the nation
on a footing with the seaboard sections; it was also serving as
the open gateway to a newer, vaster, and in some respects richer
American back country.

In the main, southern Indiana and Illinois--as well as the
trans-Mississippi territory--drew from Kentucky, Tennessee,
Virginia, and the remoter South. North of the latitude of
Indianapolis and St. Louis the lines of migration led chiefly
from New England, New York, and Pennsylvania. But many of the
settlers came, immediately or after only a brief interval, from
Europe. The decade following the close of the war was a time of
unprecedented emigration from England, Scotland, Ireland, and
Germany to the United States; and while many of the newcomers
found homes in the eastern States, where they in a measure offset
the depopulation caused by the westward exodus, a very large
proportion pressed on across the mountains in quest of the cheap
lands in the undeveloped interior. During these years the western
country was repeatedly visited by European travelers with a view
to ascertaining its resources, markets, and other attractions for
settlers; and emigration thither was powerfully stimulated by the
writings of these observers, as well as by the activities of
sundry founders of agricultural colonies.

"These favorable accounts," wrote Adlard Welby, an Englishman who
made a tour of inspection through the West in 1819, "aided by a
period of real privation and discontent in Europe, caused
emigration to increase tenfold; and though various reports of
unfavorable nature soon circulated, and many who had emigrated
actually returned to their native land in disgust, yet still the
trading vessels were filled with passengers of all ages and
descriptions, full of hope, looking forward to the West as to a
land of liberty and delight--a land flowing with milk and honey--
a second land of Canaan.*

* Thwaites, "Early Western Travels," vol. XII, p. 148. 


After the dangers from the Indians were overcome, the main
obstacle to western development was the lack of means of easy and
cheap transportation. The settler found it difficult to reach the
Legion which he had selected for his home. Eastern supplies of
salt, iron, hardware, and fabrics and foodstuffs could be
obtained only at great expense. The fast-increasing products of
the western farms--maize, wheat, meats, livestock--could be
marketed only at a cost which left a slender margin of profit.
The experiences of the late war had already proved the need of
highways as auxiliaries of national defense. It required a month
to carry goods from Baltimore to central Ohio. None the less,
even before the War of 1812, hundreds of transportation companies
were running four-horse freight wagons between the eastern and
western States; and in 1820 more than three thousand wagons--
practically all carrying western products--passed back and forth
between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, transporting merchandise
valued at eighteen million dollars.

Small wonder that western producer and eastern dealer alike
became interested in internal improvements; or that under the
double stimulus of private and public enterprise Indian trails
fast gave way to rough pioneer roadways, and they to carefully
planned and durable turnpikes. Long before the War of 1812,
Jefferson, Gallatin, Clay, and other statesmen had conceived of a
great highway, or series of highways, connecting the seaboard
with the interior as the surest and best means of promoting
national unity and strength; and, in the act of Congress of 1802
admitting the State of Ohio, a promising beginning had been made
by setting aside five per cent of the money received from the
sale of public lands in the State for the building of roads
extending eastward to the navigable waters of Atlantic streams.
In 1808 Secretary Gallatin had presented to Congress a report
calling for an outlay on internal improvements of two million
dollars of federal money a year for ten years; and in 1811 the
Government had entered upon the greatest undertaking of its kind
in the history of the country.

This enterprise was the building of the magnificent highway known
to the law as the Cumberland Road, but familiar to uncounted
emigrants, travelers, and traders--and deeply embedded in the
traditions of the Middle States and the West--as the National
Road. Starting at Cumberland, Maryland, this great artery of
commerce and travel was pushed slowly through the Alleghanies,
even in the dark days of the war, and by 1818 it was open for
traffic as far west as Wheeling. The method of construction was
that which had lately been devised by John McAdam in England, and
involved spreading crushed limestone over a carefully prepared
road-bed in three layers, traffic being permitted for a time over
each layer in succession. This "macadamized" surface was curved
to permit drainage, and extra precautions were taken in
localities where spring freshets were likely to cause damage.

Controversy raged over proposals to extend the road to the
farthest West, to provide its upkeep by a system of tolls, and to
build similar highways farther north and south. But for a time
constitutional and legal difficulties were swept aside and
construction continued. Columbus was reached in 1833,
Indianapolis about 1840; and the roadway was graded to Vandalia,
then the capital of Illinois, and marked out to Jefferson City,
Missouri, although it was never completed to the last-mentioned
point by federal authority. When one reads that the original cost
of construction mounted to $10,000 a mile in central
Pennsylvania, and even $13,000 a mile in the neighborhood of
Wheeling, one's suspicion is aroused that public contracts were
not less dubious a hundred years ago than they have been known to
be in our own time.

The National Road has long since lost its importance as the great
connecting link of East and West. But in its day, especially
before 1860, it was a teeming thoroughfare. Its course was lined
with hospitable farmhouses and was dotted with fast-growing
villages and towns. Some of the latter which once were
nationally famed were left high and dry by later shifts of the
lines of traffic, and have quite disappeared from the map.
Throughout the spring and summer months there was a steady
westward stream of emigrants; hardly a day failed to bring before
the observer's eye the creaking canvas-covered wagon of the
homeseeker. Singly and in companies they went, ever toward the
promised land. Wagon-trains of merchandise from the eastern
markets toiled patiently along the way. Speculators, peddlers,
and sightseers added to the procession, and in hundreds of
farmhouses the womenfolk and children gathered in interested
groups by the evening fire to hear the chance visitor talk
politics or war and retail with equal facility the gossip of the
next township and that of Washington or New York. Great
stage-coach lines--the National Road Stage Company, the Ohio
National Stage Company, and others--advertised the advantages of
their services and sought patronage with all the ingenuity of the
modern railroad. Taverns and roadhouses of which no trace remains
today offered entertainment at any figure, and of almost any
character, that the customer desired. Eastward flowed a steady
stream of wagon-trains of flour, tobacco, and pork, with great
droves of cattle and hogs to be fattened for the Philadelphia or
Baltimore markets.

At almost precisely the same time that the first shovelful of
earth was turned for the Cumberland Road, people dwelling on the
banks of the upper Ohio were startled by the spectacle of a large
boat moving majestically down stream entirely devoid of sail,
oar, pole, or any other visible means of propulsion or control.
This object of wonderment was the New Orleans, the first
steamboat to be launched on western waters.

The conquest of the steamboat was speedy and complete. Already in
1819 there were sixty-three such craft on the Ohio, and in 1834--
when the total shipping tonnage, of the Atlantic seaboard was
76,064, and of the British Empire 82,696--the tonnage afloat on
the Ohio and Mississippi was 126,278. Vessels regularly ascended
the navigable tributaries of the greater streams in quest of
cargoes, and while craft of other sorts did not disappear, the
great and growing commerce of the river was revolutionized.

In the upbuilding of steamboat navigation the thriving, bustling,
boastful spirit of the West found ample play. Steamboat owners
vied with one another in adorning their vessels with bowsprits,
figureheads, and all manner of tinseled decorations, and in
providing elegant accommodations for passengers; engineers and
pilots gloried in speed records and challenged one another to
races which ended in some of the most shocking steamboat
disasters known to history. The unconscious bombast of an
anonymous Cincinnati writer in Timothy Flint's "Western Monthly
Review" in 1827 gives us the real flavor of the steamboat
business on the threshold of the Jacksonian era:

"An Atlantic cit, who talks of us under the name of backwoodsmen,
would not believe, that such fairy structures of oriental
gorgeousness and splendor as the Washington, the Florida, the
Walk in the Water, The Lady of the Lake, etc., etc., had ever
existed in the imaginative brain of a romancer, much less, that
they were actually in existence, rushing down the Mississippi, as
on the wings of the wind, or plowing up between the forests, and
walking against the mighty current 'as things of life,' bearing
speculators, merchants, dandies, fine ladies, everything real,
and everything affected, in the form of humanity, with pianos,
and stocks of novels, and cards, and dice, and flirting, and
love-making, and drinking, and champagne, and on the deck,
perhaps, three hundred fellows, who have seen alligators, and
neither fear whiskey, nor gun-powder. A steamboat, coming from
New Orleans, brings to the remotest villages of our streams, and
the very doors of the cabins, a little Paris, a section of
Broadway, or a slice of Philadelphia, to ferment in the minds of
our young people, the innate propensity for fashions and
finery....
Cincinnati will soon be the centre of the "celestial empire," as 
the Chinese say; and instead of encountering the storms, the 
seasickness, and dangers of a passage from the Gulf of Mexico 
to the Atlantic, whenever the Erie Canal shall be completed, the
opulent southern planters will take their families, their dogs 
and parrots, through a world of forests, from New Orleans to 
New York, giving us a call by the way. When they are more 
acquainted with us, their voyage will often terminate here."*

* Vol. I., p. 25 (May, 1827).


The new West was frankly materialistic. Yet its interests were by
no means restricted to steamboats, turnpikes, crops, exports, and
moneymaking. It concerned itself much with religion. One of the
most familiar figures on trail and highway was the circuit-rider,
with his Bible and saddlebags; and no community was so remote, or
so hardened, as not to be raised occasionally to a frenzy of
religious zeal by the crude but terrifying eloquence of the
revivalist. For education, likewise, there was a growing regard.
Nowhere did the devotion of the Western people to the twin ideas
of democracy and enlightenment find nobler expression than in the
clause of the Indiana constitution of 1816 making it the duty of
the Legislature to provide for "a general system of education,
ascending in a regular gradation from township schools to a state
university, wherein tuition shall be gratis, and equally open to
all." This principle found general application throughout the
Northwest. By 1830 common schools existed wherever population was
sufficient to warrant the expense; academies and other secondary
schools were springing up in Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis,
and many lesser places; state universities existed in Ohio and
Indiana; and Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians had begun to
dot the country with small colleges. Literature developed slowly.
But newspapers appeared almost before there were readers; and
that the new society was by no means without cultural, and even
aesthetic, aspiration is indicated by the long-continued rivalry
of Cincinnati and Lexington, Kentucky, to be known as "the Athens
of the West."



Chapter X. Sectional Cross Current

The War of 1812 did much in America to stimulate national pride
and to foster a sense of unity. None the less, the decade
following the Peace of Ghent proved the beginning of a long era
in which the point of view in politics, business, and social life
was distinctly sectional. New England, the Middle States, the
South, the West all were bent upon getting the utmost advantages
from their resources; all were viewing public questions in the
light of their peculiar interests. In the days of Clay and
Calhoun and Jackson the nation's politics were essentially a
struggle for power among the sections.

There was a time when the frontier folk of the trans-Alleghany
country from Lakes to Gulf were much alike. New Englanders in the
Reserve, Pennsylvanians in central Ohio, Virginians and
Carolinians in Kentucky and southern Indiana, Georgians in
Alabama and Mississippi, Kentuckians and Tennesseeans in Illinois
and Missouri--all were pioneer farmers and stock-raiser's,
absorbed in the conquest of the wilderness and all thinking,
working, and living in much the same way. but by 1820 the
situation had altered. The West was still a "section," whose
interests and characteristics contrasted sharply with those of
New England or the Middle States. Yet upon occasion it could act
with very great effect, as for instance when it rallied to the
support of Jackson and bore him triumphantly to the presidential
chair. Great divergences, however, had grown up within this
western area; differences which had existed from the beginning
had been brought into sharp relief. Under play of climatic and
industrial forces, the West had itself fallen apart into
sections.

Foremost was the cleavage between North and South, on a line
marked roughly by the Ohio River. Climate, soil, the cotton gin,
and slavery combined to make of the southern West a great
cotton-raising area, interested in the same things and swayed by
the same impulses as the southern seaboard. Similarly, economic
conditions combined to make of the northern West a land of small
farmers, free labor, town-building, and diversified manufactures
and trade. A very large chapter of American history hinges on
this wedging apart of Southwest and Northwest. To this day the
two great divisions have never wholly come together in their ways
of thinking.

But neither of these western segments was itself entirely a unit.
The Northwest, in particular, had been settled by people drawn
from every older portion of the country, and as the frontier
receded and society took on a more matured aspect, differences of
habits and ideas were accentuated rather than obscured. Men can
get along very well with one another so long as they live apart
and do not try to regulate their everyday affairs on common
lines.

The great human streams that poured into the Northwest flowed
from two main sources--the nearer South and New England. Ohio,
Indiana, and Illinois were first peopled by men and women of
Southern stock. Some migrated directly from Virginia, the
Carolinas, and even Georgia. But most came from Kentucky and
Tennessee and represented the second generation of white people
in those States, now impelled to move on to a new frontier by the
desire for larger and cheaper farms. Included in this Southern
element were many representatives of the well-to-do classes, who
were drawn to the new territories by the opportunity for
speculation in land and for political preferment, and by the
opening which the fast-growing communities afforded for lawyers,
doctors, and members of other professions. The number of these
would have been larger had there been less rigid restrictions
upon slaveholding. It was rather, however, the poorer whites--the
more democratic, non-slaveholding Southern element--that formed
the bulk of the earlier settlers north of the Ohio.

There was much westward migration from New England before the War
of 1812, but only a small share of it reached the Ohio country,
and practically none went beyond the Western Reserve. The common
goal was western New York. Here again there was some emigration
of the well-to-do and influential. But, as in the South, the
people who moved were mainly those who were having difficulty in
making ends meet and who could see no way of bettering their
condition in their old homes. The back country of Maine, New
Hampshire, Vermont, and western Massachusetts was filled with
people of this sort--poor, discontented, restless, without
political influence, and needing only the incentive of cheap
lands in the West to sever the slender ties which bound them to
the stony hillsides of New England.

After 1815 New England emigration rose to astonishing
proportions, and an increasing number of the homeseekers passed--
directly or after a sojourn in the Lower Lake country of New
York--into the Northwest. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825
made the westward journey easier and cheaper. The routes of
travel led to Lakes Ontario and Erie, thence to the Reserve in
northern Ohio, thence by natural stages into other portions of
northern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and eventually into
southern Michigan and Wisconsin. Not until after 1830 did the
stalwart homeseekers penetrate north of Detroit; the great
stretches of prairie between Lakes Erie and Michigan, and to the
south--left quite untouched by Southern pioneers--satisfied every
desire of these restless farmers from New England.

For a long time Southerners determined the course of history in
the Old Northwest. They occupied the field first, and they had
the great advantage of geographical proximity to their old homes.
Furthermore, they lived more compactly; the New Englanders were
not only spread over the broader prairie stretches of the north,
but scattered to some extent throughout the entire region between
the Lakes and the Ohio.* But by the middle of the century not
only had the score of northern counties been inundated by the
"Yankees" but the waves were pushing far into the interior, where
they met and mingled with the counter-current. Both Illinois and
Indiana became, in a preeminent degree, melting-pots in which was
fused by slow and sometimes painful processes an amalgam which
Bryce and other keen observers have pronounced the most American
thing in America.

* In 1820 the population of Indiana was confined almost entirely
to the southern third of the State, although the removal of the
capital, in 1825, from Corydon to Indianapolis was carried out in
the confidence that eventually that point would become the
State's populational as it was its geographical center. When, in
1818, Illinois was admitted to the Union its population was
computed at 40,000. The figure was probably excessive; at all
events, contemporaries testify that so eager were the people for
statehood that many were counted twice, and even emigrants were
counted as they passed through the Territory. But the census of
1880 showed a population of 55,000, settled almost wholly in the
southern third of the State, with narrow tongues of inhabited
land stretching up the river valleys toward the north. Two slave
States flanked the southern end of the commonwealth; almost half
of its area lay south of a westward prolongation of Mason and
Dixon's line. Save for a few Pennsylvanians, the people were
Southern; the State was for all practical purposes a Southern
State. As late as 1883 the Legislature numbered fifty-eight
members from the South, nineteen from the Middle States, and only
four from New England.


Of the great national issues in the quarter-century following the
War of 1812 there were some upon which people of the Northwest,
in spite of their differing points of view, could very well
agree. Internal improvement was one of these. Roads and canals
were necessary outlets to southern and eastern markets, and any
reasonable proposal on this subject could be assured of the
Northwest's solid support. The thirty-four successive
appropriations to 1844 for the Cumberland Road, Calhoun's "Bonus
Bill" of 1816, the bill of 1822 authorizing a continuous national
jurisdiction over the Cumberland Road, the comprehensive "Survey
Bill" of 1824, the Maysville Road Bill of 1830--all were backed
by the united strength of the Northwestern senators and
representatives.

So with the tariff. The cry of the East for protection to infant
industries was echoed by the struggling manufacturers of
Cincinnati, Louisville, and other towns; while a protective
tariff as a means of building up the home market for foodstuffs
and raw materials seemed to the Westerner an altogether
reasonable and necessary expedient. Ohio alone in the Northwest
had an opportunity to vote on the protective bill of 1816, and
gave its enthusiastic support. Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois voted
unitedly for the bills of 1820, 1824, 1828, and 1832. The
principal western champion of the protective policy was Henry
Clay, a Kentuckian; but the Northwest supported the policy more
consistently than did Clay's own State and section.

On the National Bank the position of the Northwest was no less
emphatic. The people were little troubled by the question of
constitutionality; but believing that the bank was an engine of
tyranny in the hands of an eastern aristocracy, they were fully
prepared to support Jackson in his determination to extinguish
that "un-American monopoly."

There were other subjects upon which agreement was reached either
with difficulty or not at all. One of these was the form of local
government which should be adopted. Southerners and New
Englanders brought to their new homes widely differing political
usages. The former were accustomed to the county as the principal
local unit of administration. It was a relatively large division,
whose affairs were managed by elective officers, mainly a board
of commissioners. The New Englanders, on the other hand, had
grown up under the town-meeting system and clung to the notion
that an indispensable feature of democratic local government is
the periodic assembling of the citizens of a community for
legislative, fiscal, and electoral purposes. The Illinois
constitution of 1818 was made by Southerners, and naturally it
provided for the county system. But protest from the "Yankee"
elements became so strong that in the new constitution of 1848
provision was made for township organization wherever the people
of a county wanted it; and this form of government, at first
prevalent only in the northern counties, is now found in most of
the central and southern counties as well.

The most deeply and continuously dividing issue in the Northwest,
as in the nation, at large, was negro slavery. Although written
by Southern men, the Ordinance of 1787 stipulated that there
should be "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said
territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the
party shall have been duly convicted." If the government of the
Northwest had been one of laws, and not of men, this specific
provision would have made the territory free soil and would have
relieved the inhabitants from all interest in the "peculiar
institution." But the laws never execute themselves--least of all
in frontier communities. In point of fact, considerable numbers
of slaves were held in the territory until the nineteenth century
was far advanced. As late as 1830 thirty-two negroes were held in
servitude in the single town of Vincennes. Slavery could and did
prevail to a limited extent because existing property rights were
guaranteed in the Ordinance itself, in the deed of cession by
Virginia, in the Jay Treaty of 1794, and in other fundamental
acts. The courts of the Northwest held that slave-owners whose
property could be brought under any of these guarantees might
retain that property; and although no court countenanced further
importation, itinerant Southerners--rich planters traveling in
their family carriages, with servants, packs of hunting-dogs, and
trains of slaves, their nightly camp-fires lighting up the
wilderness where so recently the Indian hunter had held
possession"--occasionally settled in southern Indiana or Illinois
and with the connivance of the authorities kept some of their
dependents in slavery, or quasi-slavery, for decades.

Of actual slaveholders there were not enough to influence public
sentiment greatly. But the people of Southern extraction,
although neither slave holders nor desiring to become such, had
no strong moral convictions on the subject. Indeed, they were
likely to feel that the anti-slavery restriction imposed an
unfortunate impediment in the way of immigration from the South.
Hence the persistent demand of citizens of Indiana and Illinois
for a relaxation of the drastic prohibition of slavery in the
Ordinance of 1787. In 1796 Congress was petitioned from Kaskaskia
to extend relief; in 1799 the territorial Legislature was urged
to bring about a repeal; in 1802 an Indiana territorial
convention at Vincennes memorialized Congress in behalf of a
suspension of the proviso for a period of ten years. Not only
were violations of the law winked at, but both Indiana and
Illinois deliberately built up a system of indenture which
partook strongly of the characteristics of slavery. After much
controversy, Indiana, in 1816, framed a state constitution which
reiterated the language of the Northwest Ordinance, but without
invalidating titles to existing slave property; while Illinois
was admitted to the Union in 1818 with seven or eight hundred
slaves upon her soil, and with a constitution which continued the
old system of indenture with slight modification.

In a heated contest in Illinois in 1824 over the question of
calling a state convention to draft a constitution legalizing
slavery the people of Northern antecedents made their votes tell
and defeated the project. But, like other parts of the Northwest,
this State never became a unit on the slavery issue. Certainly it
never became abolitionist. By an almost unanimous vote the
Legislature, in 1837, adopted joint resolutions which condemned
abolitionism as "more productive of evil than of moral and
political good"; and in Congress in the preceding year the
delegation of the State had given solid support to the "gag
resolutions," which were intended to deny a hearing to all
petitions on the slavery question.

Throughout the great era of slavery controversy the Northwest was
prolific of schemes of compromise, for the constant clash of
Northern and Southern elements developed an aptitude for
settlement by agreement on moderate lines. The people of the
section as a whole long clung to popular, or "squatter,"
sovereignty as the supremely desirable solution of the slavery
question--a device formulated and defended by two of the
Northwest's own statesmen, Cass and Douglas, and relinquished
only slowly and reluctantly under the leadership, not of a New
England abolitionist, but of a statesman of Southern birth who
had come to the conclusion that the nation could not permanently
exist half slave and half free.

Cass, Douglas, Lincoln--all were adopted sons of the Northwest,
and the career of every one illustrates not only the prodigality
with which the back country showered its opportunities upon men
of industry and talent, but the play and interplay of sectional
and social forces in the building of the newer nation. Cass and
Douglas were New Englanders. One was born at Exeter, New
Hampshire, in 1782; the other at Brandon, Vermont, in 1813.
Lincoln sprang from Virginian and Kentuckian stocks. His father's
family moved from Virginia to Kentucky at the close of the
Revolution; in 1784 his grandfather was killed by lurking
Indians, and his father, then a boy of six, was saved from
captivity only by a lucky shot of an older brother. Lincoln
himself was born in 1809. Curiously enough, Cass and Douglas, the
New Englanders, played their roles on the national stage as
Jackson Democrats, while Lincoln, the Kentuckian of Virginian
ancestry, became a Whig and later a Republican.

Cass and Douglas were well-born. Cass's father was a thrifty
soldier-farmer who made for his family a comfortable home at
Zanesville, Ohio; Douglas's father was a successful physician.
Lincoln was born in obscurity and wretchedness. His father,
Thomas Lincoln, was a ne'er-do-well Kentucky carpenter, grossly
illiterate, unable or unwilling to rise above the lowest level of
existence in the pioneer settlements. His mother, Nancy Hanks,
whatever her antecedents may have been, was a woman of character,
and apparently of some education. But she died when her son was
only nine years of age.

Cass and Douglas had educational opportunities which in their day
were exceptional. Both attended famous academies and received
instruction in the classics, mathematics, and philosophy. Both
grew up in an environment of enlightenment and integrity.
Lincoln, on the other hand, got a few weeks of instruction under
two amateur teachers in Kentucky and a few months more in
Indiana--in all, hardly as much as one year; and as a boy he knew
only rough, coarse surroundings. When, in 1816, the restless head
of the family moved from Kentucky to southern Indiana, his
worldly belongings consisted of a parcel of carpenters' tools and
cooking utensils, a little bedding, and about four hundred
gallons of whiskey. No one who has not seen the sordidness,
misery, and apparent hopelessness of the life of the "poor
whites" even today, in the Kentucky and southern Indiana hills,
can fully comprehend the chasm which separated the boy Lincoln
from every sort of progress and distinction.

All three men prepared for public life by embracing the
profession that has always, in this country, proved the surest
avenue to preferment--the law. But, whereas Cass arrived at
maturity just in time to have an active part in the War of 1812,
and in this way to make himself the most logical selection for
the governorship of the newly organized Michigan Territory,
Douglas saw no military service, and Lincoln only a few weeks of
service during the Black Hawk War, and both were obliged to seek
fame and fortune along the thorny road of politics. Following
admission to the bar at Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1834, Douglas
was elected public prosecutor of the first judicial circuit in
1835; elected to the state Legislature in 1836; appointed by
President Van Buren registrar of the land office at Springfield
in 1837; made a judge of the supreme court of the State in 1841;
and elected to the national House of Representatives in 1843.
Resourceful, skilled in debate, intensely patriotic, and favored
with many winning personal qualities, he drew to himself men of
both Northern and Southern proclivities and became an influential
exponent of broad and enduring nationalism.

Meanwhile, after a first defeat, Lincoln was elected to the
Illinois Legislature in 1834, and again in 1836. When he gathered
all of his worldly belongings in a pair of saddlebags and fared
forth to the new capital, Springfield, to settle himself to the
practice of law, he had more than a local reputation for
oratorical power; and events were to prove that he had not only
facility in debate and familiarity with public questions, but
incomparable devotion to lofty principles. In the subsequent
unfolding of the careers of Lincoln and Douglas--especially in
the turn of events that brought to each a nomination for the
presidency by a great party in 1860--there was no small amount of
good luck and sheer accident. But it is equally true that by
prodigious effort Kentuckian and Vermonter alike hewed out their
own ways to greatness.

It was the glory of the Northwest to offer a competence to the
needy, the baffled, the discouraged, the tormented of the eastern
States and of Europe. The bulk of its fast-growing population
consisted, it is true, of ordinary folk who could have lived on
in fair comfort in the older sections, yet who were ambitious to
own more land, to make more money, and to secure larger
advantages for their children. But nowhere else was the road for
talent so wide open, entirely irrespective of inheritance,
possessions, education, environment. Nowhere outside of the
trans-Alleghany country would the rise of a Lincoln have been
possible.



Chapter XI. The Upper Mississippi Valley

While the Ohio country--the lower half of the States of Ohio,
Indiana, and Illinois--was throwing off its frontier character,
the remoter Northwest was still a wilderness frequented only by
fur-traders and daring explorers. And that far Northwest by the
sources of the Mississippi had been penetrated by few white men
since the seventeenth century. The earliest white visitors to the
upper Mississippi are not clearly known. They may have been
Pierre Radisson and his brother-in-law, Menard des Grosseilliers,
who are alleged to have covered the long portage from Lake
Superior to the Mississippi in or about 1665; but the matter
rests entirely on how one interprets Radisson's vague account of
their western perambulations. At all events, in 1680--seven years
after the descent of the river from the Wisconsin to the Arkansas
by Marquette and Joliet--Louis Hennepin, under instructions from
La Salle, explored the stream from the mouth of the Illinois to
the Falls of St. Anthony, where the city of Minneapolis now
stands, five hundred miles from the true source.

There the matter of exploration rested until the days of Thomas
Jefferson, when the purchase of Louisiana lent fresh interest to
northwestern geography. In 1805 General James Wilkinson, in
military command in the West, dispatched Lieutenant Zebulon M.
Pike with a party of twenty men from St. Louis to explore the
headwaters of the great river, make peace with the Indians, and
select sites for fortified posts. From his winter quarters near
the Falls, Pike pushed northward over the snow and ice until,
early in 1806, he reached Leech Lake, in Cass County, Minnesota,
which he wrongly took to be the source of the Father of Waters.
It is little wonder that, at a time when the river and lake
surfaces were frozen over and the whole country heavily blanketed
with snow, he should have found it difficult to disentangle the
maze of streams and lakes which fill the low-lying region around
the headwaters of the Mississippi, the Red River, and the Lake of
the Woods. In 1820 General Cass, Governor of Michigan, which then
had the Mississippi for its western boundary, led an expedition
into the same region as far as Cass Lake, where the Indians told
him that the true source lay some fifty miles to the northwest.
It remained for the traveler and ethnologist Henry Schoolcraft,
twelve years later, to discover Lake Itasca, in modern Clearwater
County, which occupies a depression near the center of the rock-
rimmed basin in which the river takes its rise.

It was not these infrequent explorers, however, who opened paths
for pioneers into the remote Northwest, but traders in. search of
furs and pelts--those commercial pathfinders of western
civilization. There is scarcely a town or city in the State of
Wisconsin that does not owe its origin, directly or indirectly,
to these men. Cheap and tawdry enough were the commodities
bartered for these wonderful beaver and otter pelts--ribbons and
gewgaws, looking-glasses and combs, blankets and shawls of gaudy
color. But scissors and knives, gunpowder and shot, tobacco and
whiskey, went also in the traders' packs, though traffic in
fire-water was forbidden. These goods, upon arrival at Mackinac,
were sent out by canoes and bateaux to the different posts, where
they were dealt out to the savages directly or were dispatched to
the winter camps along the far-reaching waterways." Returning
home in the spring, the bucks would set their squaws and children
at making maple sugar or planting corn, watermelons, potatoes,
and squash, while they themselves either dawdled their time away
or hunted for summer furs. In the autumn, the wild rice was
garnered along the sloughs and the river mouths, and the
straggling field crops were gathered in--some of the product
being hidden in skillfully covered pits, as a reserve, and some
dried for transportation in the winter's campaign. The villagers
were now ready to depart for their hunting-grounds, often
hundreds of miles away. It was then that the trader came and
credits were wrangled over and extended, each side endeavoring to
get the better of the other."*

* Thwaites, "Story of Wisconsin," p. 156.


This traffic was largely managed by the British in Canada until
1816, when an act of Congress forbade foreign traders to operate
on United States soil. But a heavier blow was inflicted in the
establishment of John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company, which
was given a substantial monopoly of Indian commerce. From its
headquarters on Mackinac Island this great corporation rapidly
squeezed the clandestine British agents out of the American
trade, introduced improved methods, and built up a system which
covered the entire fur-bearing Northwest.

Of this remoter Northwest, the region between Lakes Erie and
Michigan was the most accessible from the East; yet it was
avoided by the first pioneers, who labored under a strange
misapprehension about its climate and resources. In spite of the
fact that it abounded in rich bottom-lands and fertile prairies
and was destined to become one of the most bountiful orchards of
the world, it was reported by early prospectors to be swampy and
unfit for cultivation. Though Governor Cass did his best to
overcome this prejudice, for years settlers preferred to gather
mainly about Detroit, leaving the rich interior to fur-traders.
When enlightenment eventually came, population poured in with a
rush. Detroit--which was a village in 1820--became ten years
later a thriving city of thirty thousand and the western terminus
of a steamboat line from Buffalo, which year after year
multiplied its traffic. By the year 1837 the great territory
lying east of Lake Michigan was ready for statehood.

Almost simultaneously the region to the west of Lake Michigan
began to emerge from the fur-trading stage. The place of the
picturesque trader, however, was not taken at once by the prosaic
farmer. The next figure in the pageant was the miner. The
presence of lead in the stretch of country between the Wisconsin
and Illinois rivers was known to the Indians before the coming of
the white man, but they began to appreciate its value only after
the introduction of firearms by the French. The ore lay at no
great depth in the Galena limestone, and the aborigines collected
it either by stripping it from the surface or by sinking shallow
shafts from which it was hoisted, in deerskin bags. Shortly after
the War of 1812 American prospectors pushed into the region, and
the Government began granting leases on easy terms to operators.
In 1823 one of these men arrived with soldiers, supplies, skilled
miners, and one hundred and fifty slaves; and thereafter the
"diggings" fast became a mecca for miners, smelters, speculators,
merchants, gamblers, and get-rich-quick folk of every sort, who
swarmed thither by thousands from every part of the United
States, especially the South, and even from Europe. "Mushroom
towns sprang up all over the district; deep-worn native paths
became ore roads between the burrows and the river-landings;
sink-holes abandoned by the Sauk and Foxes, when no longer to be
operated with their crude tools, were reopened and found to be
exceptionally rich, while new diggings and smelting-furnaces,
fitted out with modern appliances, fairly dotted the map of the
country."*

* Thwaites, "Story of Wisconsin". p. 163.


Galena was the entrepot of the region. A trail cut thither from
Peoria soon became a well-worn coach road; roads were early
opened to Chicago and Milwaukee. In 1822 Galena was visited by a
Mississippi River steamboat, and a few years later regular
steamboat traffic was established. And it was by these roadways
and waterways that homeseekers soon began to arrive.


The invasion of the white man, accompanied though it was by
treaties, was bitterly resented by the Indian tribes who occupied
the Northwest above the Illinois River. These Sioux, Sauk and
Foxes, and Winnebagoes, with remnants of other tribes, carried on
an intermittent warfare for years, despite the efforts of the
Federal Government to define tribal boundaries; and between red
men and white men coveting the same lands causes of irritation
were never wanting. In 1827 trouble which had been steadily
brewing came to the boiling-point. Predatory expeditions in the
north were reported; the Winnebagoes were excited by rumors that
another war between the United States and Great Britain was
imminent; an incident or even an accident was certain to provoke
hostilities. The incident occurred. When Red Bird, a petty
Winnebago chieftain dwelling in a "town" on the Black River, was
incorrectly informed that two Winnebago braves who had been
imprisoned at Prairie du Chien had been executed, he promptly
instituted vengeance. A farmer's family in the neighborhood of
Prairie du Chien was massacred, and two keel-boats returning down
stream from Fort Snelling were attacked, with some loss of life.
The settlers hastily repaired the old fort and also dispatched
messengers to give the alarm. Galena sent a hundred militiamen; a
battalion came down from Fort Snelling; Governor Cass arrived on
the spot by way of Green Bay; General Atkinson brought up a full
regiment from Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis; and finally
Major Whistler proceeded up the Fox with a portion of the troops
stationed at Fort Howard, on Green Bay.

When all was in readiness, the Winnebagoes were notified that,
unless Red Bird and his principal accomplice, Wekau, were
promptly surrendered, the tribe would be exterminated. The threat
had its intended effect, and the two culprits duly presented
themselves at Whistler's camp on the Fox-Wisconsin portage, in
full savage regalia, and singing their war dirges. Red Bird, who
was an Indian of magnificent physique and lofty bearing, had but
one request to make--that he be not committed to irons--and this
request was granted. At Prairie du Chien, whither the two were
sent for trial, he had opportunities to escape, but he refused to
violate his word by taking advantage of them. Following their
trial, the redskins were condemned to be hanged. Unused to
captivity, however, Red Bird languished and soon died, while his
accomplice was pardoned by President Adams. In 1828 Fort
Winnebago was erected on the site of Red Bird's surrender.

The Winnebagoes now agreed to renounce forever their claims to
the lead mines. Furthermore, in the same year, the site of the
principal Sauk village and burying-ground, on Rock River, three
miles south of the present city of Rock Island, was sold by the
Government, and the Sauk and Foxes resident in the vicinity were
given notice to leave. Under the Sauk chieftain Keokuk most of
the dispossessed warriors withdrew peacefully beyond the
Mississippi, and two years later the tribal representatives
formally yielded all claims to lands east of that stream. Some
members of the tribe, however, established themselves on the high
bluff which has since been known as Black Hawk's Watch Tower and
defied the Government to remove them.

The leading spirit in this protest was Black Hawk, who though
neither born a chief nor elected to that dignity, had long been
influential in the village and among his people at large. During
the War of 1812 he became an implacable enemy of the Americans,
and, after fighting with the British at the battles of Frenchtown
and the Thames, he returned to Illinois and carried on a border
warfare which ended only with the signing of a special treaty of
peace in 1816. For years thereafter he was accustomed to lead his
"British band" periodically across northern Illinois and southern
Michigan to the British Indian agency to receive presents of
arms, ammunition, provisions, and trinkets; and he was a
principal intermediary in the British intrigues which gave Cass,
as superintendent of Indian affairs in the Northwest, many uneasy
days. He was ever a restless spirit and a promoter of trouble,
although one must admit that he had some justice on his side and
that he was probably honest and sincere. Tall, spare, with
pinched features, exceptionally high cheekbones, and a prominent
Roman nose, he was a figure to command attention--the more so by
reason of the fact that he had practically no eyebrows and no
hair except a scalp-lock, in which on state occasions he fastened
a flaming bunch of dyed eagle feathers.

Returning from their hunt in the spring of 1830, Black Hawk and
his warriors found the site of their town preempted by white
settlers and their ancestral burying-ground ploughed over. In
deep rage, they set off for Malden, where they were liberally
entertained and encouraged to rebel. Coming again to the site of
their village a year later, they were peremptorily ordered away.
This time they resolved to stand their ground, and Black Hawk
ordered the squatters themselves to withdraw and gave them until
the middle of the next day to do so. Black Hawk subsequently
maintained that he did not mean to threaten bloodshed. But the
settlers so construed his command and deluged Governor Reynolds
with petitions for help. With all possible speed, sixteen hundred
volunteers and ten companies of United States regulars were
dispatched to the scene, and on the 25th of June, they made an
impressive demonstration within view of the village. In the face
of such odds discretion seemed the better part of valor, and
during the succeeding night Black Hawk and his followers quietly
paddled across the Mississippi. Four days later they signed an
agreement never to return to the eastern banks without express
permission from the United States Government.

On the Indian side this compact was not meant to be kept. Against
the urgent advice of Keokuk and other leaders, Black Hawk
immediately began preparations for a campaign of vengeance.
British intrigue lent stimulus, and a crafty "prophet," who was
chief of a village some thirty-five miles up the Rock, made it
appear that aid would be given by the Potawatomi, Winnebagoes,
and perhaps other powerful peoples. In the first week of April,
1832, the disgruntled leader and about five hundred braves, with
their wives and children, crossed the Mississippi at Yellow Banks
and ascended the Rock River to the prophet's town, with a view to
raising a crop of corn during the summer and taking the war-path
in the fall.

The invasion created much alarm throughout the frontier country.
The settlers drew together about the larger villages, which were
put as rapidly as possible in a state of defense. Again the
Governor called for volunteers, and again the response more than
met the expectation. Four regiments were organized, and to them
were joined four hundred regulars. One of the first persons to
come forward with an offer of his services was a tall, ungainly,
but powerful young man from Sangamon County, who had but two
years before settled in the State, and who was at once honored
with the captaincy of his company. This man was Abraham Lincoln.
Other men whose names loom large in American history were with
the little army also. The commander of the regulars was Colonel
Zachary Taylor. Among his lieutenants were Jefferson Davis and
Albert Sidney Johnston, and Robert Anderson, the defender of Fort
Sumter in 1860, was a colonel of Illinois volunteers. It is said
that the oath of allegiance was administered to young Lincoln by
Lieutenant Jefferson Davis!

Over marshy trails and across streams swollen by the spring thaws
the army advanced to Dixon's Ferry, ninety miles up the Rock,
whence a detachment of three hundred men was sent out, under
Major Stillman, to reconnoitre. Unluckily, this force seized
three messengers of peace dispatched by Black Hawk and, in the
clash which followed, was cut to pieces and driven into headlong
flight by a mere handful of red warriors. The effect of this
unexpected affray was both to stiffen the Indians to further
resistance and to precipitate a fresh panic throughout the
frontier. All sorts of atrocities ensued, and Black Hawk's name
became a household bugaboo the country over.

Finally a new levy was made ready and sent north. Pushing across
the overflowed wilderness stretches, past the sites of modern
Beloit and Madison, this army, four thousand strong, came upon
the fleeing enemy on the banks of the Wisconsin River, and at
Wisconsin Heights, near the present town of Prairie du Sac, it
inflicted a severe defeat upon the Indians. Again Black Hawk
desired to make peace, but again he was frustrated, this time by
the lack of an interpreter. The redskins' flight was continued in
the direction of the Mississippi, which they reached in
midsummer. They were prevented from crossing by lack of canoes,
and finally the half-starved band found itself caught between the
fire of a force of regulars on the land side and a government
supply steamer, the Warrior, on the water side, and between these
two the Indian band was practically annihilated.

 Thus ended the war--a contest originating in no general uprising
or far-reaching plan, such as marked the rebellions instigated by
Pontiac and Tecumseh, but which none the less taxed the strength
of the border populations and opened a new chapter in the history
of the remoter northwestern territories. Black Hawk himself took
refuge with the Winnebagoes in the Dells of the Wisconsin, only
to be treacherously delivered over to General Street at Prairie
du Chien. Under the terms of a treaty of peace signed at Fort
Armstrong (Rock Island) in September, the fallen leader and some
of his accomplices were held as hostages, and during the ensuing
winter they were kept at Jefferson Barracks (St. Louis) under the
surveillance of Jefferson Davis. In the spring of 1833 they were
taken to Washington, where they had an interview with President
Jackson. "We did not expect to conquer the whites," Black Hawk
told the President; "they had too many houses, too many men. I
took up the hatchet, for my part, to revenge injuries which my
people could no longer endure. Had I borne them longer without
striking, my people would have said, 'Black Hawk is a woman--he
is too old to be a chief he is no Sauk.'" After a brief
imprisonment at Fortress Monroe, where Jefferson Davis was
himself confined at the close of the Civil War, the captives were
set free, and were taken to Philadelphia, New York, up the
Hudson, and finally back to the Rock River country.

For some years Black Hawk lived quietly on a small reservation
near Des Moines. In 1837 the peace-loving Keokuk took him with a
party of Sauk and Fox chiefs again to Washington, and on this
trip he made a visit to Boston. The officials of the city
received the august warrior and his companions in Faneuil Hall,
and the Governor of the commonwealth paid them similar honor at
the State House. Some war-dances were performed on the Common for
the amusement of the populace, and afterwards the party was taken
to see a performance by Edwin Forrest at the Tremont Theatre.
Here all went well, except that at an exciting point in the play
where one of the characters fell dying the Indians burst out into
a war-whoop, to the considerable consternation of the women and
children present.

A few months after returning to his Iowa home, Black Hawk, now
seventy-one years of age, was gathered to his fathers. He was
buried about half a mile from his cabin, in a sitting posture,
his left hand grasping a cane presented to him by Henry Clay, and
at his side a supply of food and tobacco sufficient to last him
to the spirit land, supposed to be three days' travel. "Rock
River," he said in a speech at a Fourth of July celebration
shortly before his death, "was a beautiful country. I liked my
town, my cornfields, and the home of my people. I fought for it.
It is now yours. Keep it, as we did. It will produce you good
crops."


The Black Hawk War opened a new chapter in the history of the
Northwest. The soldiers carried to their homes remarkable stories
of the richness and attractiveness of the northern country, and
the eastern newspapers printed not only detailed accounts of the
several expeditions but highly colored descriptions of the charms
of the region. Books and pamphlets by the score helped to attract
the attention of the country. The result was a heavy influx of
settlers, many of them coming all the way from New England and
New York, others from Pennsylvania and Ohio. Lands were rapidly
surveyed and placed on sale, and surviving Indian hunting-grounds
were purchased. Northern Illinois filled rapidly with a thrifty
farming population, and the town of Chicago became an entrepot.
Further north, Wisconsin had been organized, in 1836, as a
Territory, including not only the present State of that name but
Iowa, Minnesota, and most of North and South Dakota. As yet the
Iowa country, however, had been visited by few white people; and
such as came were only hunters and trappers, agents of the
American Fur and other trading companies, or independent traders.
Two of the most active of these free-lances of early days--the
French Canadian Dubuque and the Englishman Davenport--have left
their names to flourishing cities.

To recount the successive purchases by which the Government freed
Iowa soil from Indian domination would be wearisome. The Treaty
of 1842 with the Sauks and Foxes is typical. After a sojourn of
hardly more than a decade in the Iowa country, these luckless
folk were now persuaded to yield all their lands to the United
States and retire to a reservation in Kansas. The negotiations
were carried out with all due regard for Indian susceptibilities.
Governor Chambers, resplendent in the uniform of a
brigadier-general of the United States army, repaired with his
aides to the appointed rendezvous, and there the chiefs presented
themselves, arrayed in new blankets and white deerskin leggings,
with full paraphernalia of paint, feathers, beads, and
elaborately decorated war clubs. Oratory ran freely, although
through the enforced medium of an interpreter. The chiefs
harangued for hours not only upon the beautiful meadows, the
running streams, the stately trees, and the other beloved objects
which they were called upon to surrender to the white man, but
upon the moon and stars and rain and hail and wind, all of which
were alleged to be more attractive and beneficent in Iowa than
anywhere else. The Governor, in turn, gave the Indians some good
advice, urging them to live peaceably in their new homes, to be
industrious and self-supporting, to leave liquor alone, and, in
general, to "be a credit to the country." When every one had
talked as much as he liked, the treaty was solemnly signed.

The "New Purchase" was thrown open to settlers in the following
spring; and the opening brought scenes of a kind destined to be
reenacted scores of times in the great West during succeeding
decades--the borders of the new district lined, on the eve of the
opening, with encamped settlers and their families ready to race
for the best claims; horses saddled and runners picked for the
rush; a midnight signal from the soldiery, releasing a flood of
eager land-hunters armed with torches, axes, stakes, and every
sort of implement for the laying out of claims with all possible
speed; by daybreak, many scores of families "squatting" on the
best pieces of ground which they had been able to reach;
innumerable disputes, with a general readjustment following the
intervention of the government surveyors.

The marvelous progress of the upper Mississippi Valley is briefly
told by a succession of dates. In 1838 Iowa was organized as a
Territory; in 1846 it was admitted as a State; in 1848 Wisconsin
was granted statehood; and in 1849 Minnesota was given
territorial organization with boundaries extending westward to
the Missouri.


Thus the Old Northwest had arrived at the goal set for it by the
large-visioned men who framed the Ordinance of 1787; every foot
of its soil was included in some one of the five thriving,
democratic commonwealths that had taken their places in the Union
on a common basis with the older States of the East and the
South. Furthermore, the Mississippi had ceased to be a boundary.
A magnificent vista reaching off to the remoter West and
Northwest had been opened up; the frontier had been pushed far
out upon the plains of Minnesota and Iowa. Decade after decade
the powerful epic of westward expansion, shot through with
countless tales of heroism and sacrifice, had steadily unfolded
before the gaze of an astonished world; and the end was not yet
in sight.



Bibliographical Note

There is no general history of the Northwest covering the whole
of the period dealt with in this book except Burke A. Hinsdale,
The Old Northwest (1888). This is a volume of substantial
scholarship, though it reflects but faintly the life and spirit
of the people. The nearest approach to a moving narrative is
James K. Hosmer, "Short History of the Mississippi Valley"
(1901), which tells the story of the Middle West from the
earliest explorations to the close of the nineteenth century,
within a brief space, yet in a manner to arouse the reader's
interest and sympathy. A fuller and very readable narrative to
1796 will be found in Charles Moore, "The Northwest under Three
Flags" (1900). Still more detailed, and enlivened by many
contemporary rasps and plans, is Justin Winsor, "The Westward
Movement" (1899), covering the period from the pacification of
1763 to the close of the eighteenth century. Frederick J. Turner,
"Rise of the New West" (1906) contains several interesting and
authoritative chapters on western development after the War of
1812; and John B. McMaster, "History of the People of the United
States" (8 vols., 1883-1913), gives in the fourth and fifth
volumes a very good account of westward migration.

An excellent detailed account of the settlement and development
of a single section of the Northwest is G. N. Fuller, "Economic
and Social Beginnings of Michigan," Michigan Historical
Publications, Univ. Series, No.1 (1916). A very readable book is
R. G. Thwaites, "The Story of Wisconsin" (rev. ed., 1899),
containing a full account of the early relations of white men and
red men, and of the Black Hawk War. Mention may be made, too, of
H. E. Legler, "Leading Events of Wisconsin History" (1898).

Among the volumes dealing with the diplomatic history of the
Northwest, mention should be made of two recent studies: C. W.
Alvord, "The Mississippi Valley in British Politics" (2 vols.,
1917), and E. S. Corwin, "French Policy and the American
Alliance" (1916).

Aside from Lincoln, few men of the earlier Northwest have been
made the subjects of well-written biographies. Curiously, there
are no modern biographies, good or bad, of George Rogers Clark,
General St. Clair, or William Henry Harrison. John R. Spears,
"Anthony Wayne" (1903) is an interesting book; and Andrew C.
McLaughlin, "Lewis Cass" (1891), and Allen Johnson, "Stephen A.
Douglas" (1908) are excellent. Lives of Lincoln that have
importance for their portrayal of western society include: John
T. Morse, Jr., "Abraham Lincoln" (2 vols., 1893); John G. Nicolay
and John Hay, "Abraham Lincoln, a History" (10 vols., 1890); and
Ida M. Tarbell, "Life of Abraham Lincoln" (new ed., 2vols.,
1917).

The reader will do well, however, to turn early to some of the
works within the field which, by reason of their literary quality
as well as their scholarly worth, have attained the dignity of
classics. Foremost are the writings of Francis Parkman. Most of
these, it is true, deal with the history of the American interior
prior to 1763. But "Frontenac and New France under Louis XIV"
(Frontenac edition, 1915), and "A Half-Century of Conflict" (2
vols., same ed.) furnish the necessary background; and "The
Conspiracy of Pontiac" (2 vols., same ed.) is indispensable.
Parkman's work closes with the Indian war following the Treaty of
1763. Theodore Roosevelt's "Winning of the West" (4 vols.,
1889-96) takes up the story at that point and carries it to the
collapse of the Burr intrigues during the second administration
of Thomas Jefferson. This work was a pioneer in the field. In the
light of recent scholarship it is subject to criticism at some
points; but it is based on careful study of the sources, and for
vividness and interest it has perhaps not been surpassed in
American historical writing. A third extensive work is Archer B.
Hulbert, "Historic Highways of America" (16 vols., 1902-05). In
writing the history of the great land and water routes of trade
and travel between East and West the author found occasion to
describe, in interesting fashion, most phases of western life.
The volumes most closely related to the subject matter of the
present book are: "Military Roads of the Mississippi Valley"
(VIII); "Waterways of Western Expansion" (IX); "The Cumberland
Road" (X); and "Pioneer Roads and Experiences of Travellers"
(XIXII). Mention should be made also of Mr. Hulbert's "The Ohio
River, a Course of Empire" (1906).

Further references will be found appended to the articles on
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin in "The
Encyclopaedia Britannica" (11th edition).

Opportunity to get the flavor of the period by reading
contemporary literature is afforded by two principal kinds of
books. One is reminiscences, letters, and histories written by
the Westerners themselves. Timothy Flint's "Recollections of the
Last Ten Years" (1826) will be found interesting; as also J.
Hall, "Letters from the West" (1828), and T. Ford, "History of
Illinois" (1854).

The second type of materials is books of travel written by
visitors from the East or from Europe. Works of this nature are
always subject to limitations. Even when the author tries to be
accurate and fair, his information is likely to be hastily
gathered and incomplete and his judgments unsound. Between 1800
and 1840 the Northwest was visited, however, by many educated and
fair-minded persons who wrote readable and trustworthy
descriptions of what they saw and heard. A complete list cannot
be given here, but some of the best of these books are: John
Melish, "Travels in the United States of America in the Years
1806 & 1807 and 1809, 1810 & 1811" (2 vols., 1810; William
Cobbett, A Year's Residence in the United States of America
(1818); Henry B. Fearon, Sketches of America (1818); Morris
Birkbeck, Letters from Illinois (1818); John Bradbury, Travels in
the Interior of America in the Years 1809, 1810, and 1811"
(1819); Thomas Hulme, "Journal made during a Tour in the Western
Countries of America, 1818-1819" (1828); and Michael Chevalier,
"Society, Manners, and Politics in the United States" (1839).
Copies of early editions of some of these works will be found in
most large libraries. But the reader is happily not dependent on
this resource. Almost all of the really important books of the
kind are reprinted, with introductions and explanatory matter, in
Reuben G. Thwaites, "Early Western Travels, 1714-1846" (32 vols.,
1904-07), which is one of our chief collections of historical
materials.




End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Old Northwest, A Chronicle
of the Ohio Valley and Beyond, by Frederic Austin Ogg


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