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1752.J DEATH OF LAWRENCE WASHINGTON. 49
and friends. As to his own movements, he says, "Six weeks will determine me what to resolve on. Forbes advises the south of France, or else Barbadoes." The very next letter, written shortly afterwards in a moment of despondency, talks of the possibility of " hurrying home to his grave!"
The last was no empty foreboding. He did indeed hasten back, and just reached Mount Vernon in time to die under his own roof, surrounded by his family and friends, and attended in his last moments by that brother on whose manly affection his heart seemed to repose. His death took place on the 26th July, 1752, when but thirtyfour years of age. He was a noble-spirited, pure-minded, accomplished gentleman, honoured by the public, and beloved by his friends. The paternal care ever manifested by him for his youthful brother George, and the influence his own character and conduot must have had upon him in his ductile years, should link their memories together in history, and endear the name of Lawrence Washington to every American.
Lawrence left a wife and an infant daughter to inherit his ample estates. In case his daughter should die without issue, the estate of Mount Vernon, and other lands specified in his will, were to be enjoyed by her mother during her lifetime, and at her death to be inherited by his brother George: the latter was appointed one of the executors of the will; but such was the implicit confidence reposed in his judgment and integrity, that, although he was but twenty years of age, the management of the affairs of the deceased soon devolved upon him almost entirely. It is needless to say that they were managed with con summate skill and scrupulous fidelity.
Council of the Ohio Tribes at Logstown—Treaty with the English— Gist's Settlement—Speeches of the Half-King and the French Commandant—French Aggressions—The Ruins of Piqua—Washington sont on a Mission to the French Commander—Jacob Van Braam, his Interpreter—Christopher Gist, his Guide—Halt at the Confluence of the Monongahela and Allegany — Projected Fort — Shingiss, the Delaware Sachem—Logstown—The Half-King—Indian Councils— Indian Diplomacy—Rumours concerning Joncaire—Indian Escorts— The Half-King, Jeskakake, and White Thunder.
The meeting of the Ohio tribes, Delawares, Shawnees, and Mingoes, to form a treaty of alliance with Virginia, took place at Logstown, at the appointed time. The chiefs of the Six Nations declined to attend. "It is not our custom," said they, proudly, "to meet to treat of affairs in the woods and weeds. If the Governor of Virginia wants to speak with us, and deliver us a present from our father (the King), we will meet him at Albany, where we expect the Governor of New York will be present."1
At Logstown, Colonel Fry and two other commissioners from Virginia concluded a treaty with the tribes above named, by which the latter engaged not to molest any English settlers south of the Ohio. Tanacharisson, the half-king, now advised that his brothers of Virginia should build a strong house at the fork of the Monongahela, to resist the designs of the French. Mr. Gist was accordingly instructed to lay out a town and build a fort at Shurtee's Creek, on the east side of the Ohio, a little below the site of the present city of Pittsburg. He commenced a settlement, also, in a valley just beyond Laurel Hill, not far from the Youghiogony, and prevailed on eleven families to join him. The Ohio Company, about the same time, established a trading post, well stocked with English goods, at Wills' Creek (now Cumberland River).
The Ohio tribes were greatly incensed at the aggressions of the French, who were erecting posts within their territories, and sent deputations to remonstrate, but without
1 Letter of Colonel Johnson to Governor Clinton.—Doc. Hist. N. T., vol. ii. p. l,24.
1752.] THE HALF-KING AND THE FRENCH COMMANDANT. 51
effect. The half-king, as chief of the western tribes, repaired to the French post on Lake Erie, where he made his complaint in person.
"Fathers," said he, "you are the disturbers of this land by building towns, and taking the country from us by fraud and force. We kindled a fire a long time since at Montreal, where we desired you to stay and not to come and intrude upon our land. I now advise you to return to that place, for this land is ours.
"If you had come in a peaceable manner, like our brothers the English, we should have traded with you as we do with them; but that you should come and build houses on our land, and take it by force, is what we cannot submit to. Both you and the English are white. We live in a country between you both; the land belongs to neither of you. The Great Being allotted it to us as a residence. So, fathers, I desire you, as I have desired our brothers the English, to withdraw, for I will keep you both at arm's length. Whichever most regards this request, that side will we stand by and consider friends. Our brothers the English have heard this, and I now come to toll it to you, for I am not afraid to order you off this land."
"Child," replied the French commandant, "you talk foolishly. You say this land belongs to you; there is not the black of my nail yours. It is my land, and I will have it, let who will stand up against me. I am not afraid of flies and mosquitoes, for such I consider the Indians. I tell you that down the river I will go, and build upon it. If it were blocked up, I have forces sufficient to burst it open and trample down all who oppose me. My force is as the sand upon the sea-shore; therefore, here is your wampum,-1 fling it at you."
Tanacharisson returned, wounded at heart, both by the language and the haughty manner of the French commandant. He saw the ruin impending over his race, but looked with hope and trust to the English as the power least disposed to wrong the red man.
French influence was successful in other quarters. Some of the Indians who had been friendly to the English showed signs of alienation; others menaced hostilities. There were reports that the French were ascending the Mississippi from Louisiana. France, it was said, intended to connect Louisiana and Canada by a chain of military posts, and hem the English within the Allegany Mountains.
The Ohio Company complained loudly to the Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, the Hon. Eobert Dinwiddie, of the hostile conduct of the French and their Indian allies. They found in Dinwiddie a ready listener; he was a stockholder in the company.
A commissioner, Captain William Trent, was sent to expostulate with the French commander on the Ohio for his aggressions on the territory of his Britannic majesty; he bore presents also of guns, powder, shot, and clothing for the friendly Indians.
Trent was not a man of the true spirit for a mission to the frontier. He stopped short at Logstown, though the French were one hundred and fifty miles further up the river, and directed his course to Piqua, the great town of the Twightwees, where Gist and Croghan had been so well received by the Miamis, and the French flag struck on the council-house. All now was reversed. The place had been attacked by the French and Indians; the Miamis defeated with great loss; the English traders taken prisoners; the Piankesha chief, who had so proudly turned his back upon the Ottawa ambassadors, had been sacrificed by the hostile savages, and the French flag hoisted in triumph on the ruins of the town. The whole aspect of affairs was so threatening on the frontier, that Trent lost heart, and returned home without accomplishing his errand.
Governor Dinwiddie now looked round for a person more fitted to fulfil a mission which required physical strength and moral energy; a courage to cope with savages, and a sagacity to negotiate with white men. Washington was pointed out as possessed of those requisites. It is time he was not yet twenty-two years of age; but public confidence in his judgment and abilities had been manifested a second time, by renewing his appointment of adjutant-general, and assigning him the northern division. He was acquainted too with the matters in litigation, having been in the bosom councils of his deceased brother. His woodland 1753.] SENT ON A MISSION TO THE FRENCH COMMANDER. 53
experience fitted him for an expedition through the wilderness; and his great discretion and self-command for a negotiation with wily commanders and fickle savages. He was accordingly chosen for the expedition.
By his letter of instructions he was directed to repair to Logstown, and hold a communication with Tanacharisson, Monacatoocha, alias Scarooyadi, the next in command, and the other sachems of the mixed tribes friendly to the English; inform them of the purport of his errand, and request an escort to the head-quarters of the French commander. To that commander he was to deliver his credentials and the letter of Governor Dinwiddie, and demand an answer in the name of his Britannic Majesty; but not to wait for it beyond a week. On receiving it, he was to request a sufficient escort to protect him on his return.
He was, moreover, to acquaint himself with the numbers and force of the French stationed on the Ohio and in its vicinity; their capability of being reinforced from Canada; the forts they had erected; where situated, how garrisoned; the object of their advancing into those parts, and how they were likely to be supported.
Washington set off from Williamsburg on the 30th of October (1753), the very day on which he received his credentials. At Fredericksburg he engaged his old "master of fence," Jacob Van Braam, to accompany him as interpreter; though it would appear, from subsequent circumstances, that the veteran swordsman was but indifferently versed either in French or English.
Having provided himself at Alexandria with necessaries for the journey, he proceeded to Winchester, then on the frontier, where he procured horses, tents, and other travelling equipments, and then pushed on by a road newly opened to Wills' Creek (Cumberland Eiver), where he arrived on the 14th of November.
Here he met with Mr. Gist, the intrepid pioneer, who had explored the Ohio in the employ of the company, and whom he engaged to accompany and pilot him in the resont expedition. He secured the services also of one ohn Davidson as Indian interpreter, and of four frontiersmen, two of whom were Indian traders. With this little band, and his swordsman and interpreter, Jacob Van