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We find on record at Kaskaskia, in Randolph county, in this State, a paper executed more than a hundred years ago, which, translated, is in the words and figures following:
“ Pierre Duque Boisbriant, knight of the military order of St. Louis, and first king's lieutenant of the province of Louisiana, commanding at the Illinois, and Marc Antoine de la loire des Ursins, principal secretary for the royal India company.
On the demand of Charles Danie, to grant him a piece of land, of five arpents in front, on the side of the Michigamia river, running north and south, joining to Michael Philip, on one side, and on the other, to Melique, and in depth, east and west, to the Mississippi.
In consequence, they do grant to the said Charles Danie (in soccage) the said land, whereon he may, from this date, commence working, clearing, and sowing, in expectation of a formal concession, which shall be sent from France by messieurs, the directors of the royal India company.
And the said land shall revert to the domain of the said company, if the said Charles Danie do not work thereon within a year and a day.
DES URSINS. May 10th, 1722.
We find also a grant, or concession, bearing date on the 14th of June, 1723, to Philip Rinault, including the village and establishment at St. Philips, of one league on the Mis. sissippi, and two leagues back from thence,“ to enable him to support his establishment at the mines of Upper Louisiana,” in Illinois. Between 1722 and 1731, at which time the company was dissolved, and Louisiana retroceded to the crown, other grants of the same kind, were made to a considerable extent.
These grants, or concessions, however, executed as they were, without pecuniary consideration, added nothing to the income or profits of the company. The settlements, or rather the colonization of Louisiana, so far from increasing the wealth (other than imaginary,) of the company of the Indies, served to embarrass it exceedingly. The amount expended by the company in 1720, when Fort Chartres was erected, is, we believe, unknown. Evidence, however, of great prodigality almost everywhere exists; and in 1722, we find the sum of 1,163,256 livres (See Stoddart's Louisiana, 45,) disbursed in Lonigiana alone, to effect objects of comparative insignificance.
French Encroachments—War of 1756-Said untruly by Smollet, the English Historian,
to be " a native of America”-Occasioned a transfer of the State of Illinois from the French to the English— The title to Illinois settled on the Plains of AbrahamOhio Company-English Traders arrested—Discharged at the solicitation of the Earl of Albemarle, English embassador at Paris— The Ohio Company cause sur. veys to be made-Jealousy of the Indians excited - Indians take sides with the French-Major Washington sent by Governor Dinwiddie, with a message to the French head-quarters on the Ohio, 1753—Leads a Military Expedition thither in 1754—Colonel Washington attacks and defeats a party of French and IndiansBuilds Fort Necessity—Is attacked, and capitulates—Receives the thanks of his countrymen-Resigns his commission on account of orders being sent from England, denying Provincial officers rank when serving in the Line-Retires to Mount Vernon-General Braddock's Expedition-Colonel Washington invited to enter his family as Aid-General Braddock defeated and killed-Expedition against Crown. Point and Niagara—Abortive—War declared by England against France, and by France against England, in 1756-Attack on Niagara, Crown-Point, and Ticonderoga contemplated Postponed—Oswego taken by the French-Its garrison inhumanly massacred in part-Fort William Henry taken by the French-Attack of Louisburgh by the English postponed" to a more convenient opportunity"—William Pitt-Elected to Parliament--Made a member of the Privy Council-Dismissed Appointed Secretary of State-Attack on the French coast-Louisburgh takenSt. John surrenders-Fort Frontenac taken-Fort Du Quesne abandoned-English attack Ticonderoga, and are repulsed— Ticonderoga and Crown-Point abandoned General Wolf lays siege to Quebec-Battle of Montmorenci-English defeated Extraordinary Adventure-Battle of Quebec-The latter surrenders--General Wolf killed-Honors paid to General Wolf—also to Marquis de Montcalm— The whole of Canada surrenders-Pontiac-Pontiac War-Mackinaw surprised and taken by the Indians--Other places also taken-Attack on Detroit--Indians repulsed-Major Campbell massacred-Pontiac assassinated-Peace of 1763-Illinois ceded to England.
The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1748, was only a truce. Eight years, however, of successful and unsuccessful war, had rendered peace desirable. During the progress of hostilities, nothing had been gained by either party but an accumulation of debt. Humanity had suffered without an object, and without a result. Everything taken during the war was restored, and the boundaries between the English and French colonies in North America as unsettled as before. The important questions which had provoked hostilities were still unadjusted. The contin. uance of public tranquillity was intrusted to standing armies; and the balance of power, which had puzzled so many statesmen, remained as unfixed and uncertain as ever.
Although able men had negotiated the treaty, and supposed, and perhaps believed, themselves the arbiters of mankind—the pacificators of the world, their insight into futurity must have been limited, indeed, if they supposed that the workings of avarice and ambition would therefore cease, or that standing armies, mortified by defeat or flushed with victory, were suitable depositors of Europe's safety or of man's repose.
While the British ministry were depending on the success of their conferences at Paris, the French in North America were executing their plans of encroachment upon the English colonies ; and in order to engross the whole trade in fur with the Indians, had made some progress, as we have already remarked, in erecting a line of forts between Canada and New Orleans. Their commercial spirit, however, did not keep pace with their ambition. They could not, or rather did not, supply the Indians with the necessaries they wanted; many, therefore, resorted to the English settlements upon the Atlantic coast, and a spirit of rivalship was thence forward excited. The English undersold the French trader. The Indians saw, and marked the difference, and sometimes wavered in their political faith.
The spirit of commercial monopoly thus unreasonably excited, in a few years, notwithstanding the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, roused the whole civilized world once more to arms.
The war which followed (in 1756,) being, as Smollet, the English historian (untruly) observes, " a native of America,” and producing in its result a change of masters for a consid. erable portion of this vast Continent, (including the whole State of Illinois,) demands on this occasion something more than a few passing remarks.
Previous to the year one thousand seven hundred and fifty-three, the English colonists had scarcely ventured as far as the Ohio. The Appa. lachian and Alleghany chain of mountains, seemed for awhile to have bound them in an orbit, beyond which none save the solitary hunter, or the indefatigable vender of English merchandise, had sought to penetrate. The latter, however, in their excursions saw it was a goodly land ; and the restless foot of English adventure is never satisfied with transient impressions.
A plan had previously been formed in Virginia, to organize a company to colonize this beautiful valley. The design, however, had been frus. trated, partly by the indolence and timidity of the English ministry, who were either afraid or unwilling to give umbrage to the French, and partly by reason of jealousy and divisions which existed among the col. onists. These circumstances, while they retarded the march of English enterprise, stimulated the French to new and reiterated efforts.
Soon after the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, the organization of the Ohio company” was revived, and an extensive tract of land, south of Pennsylvania, was patented to certain individuals by the English crown. An exclusive privilege at the same time was granted to the company, of tra. ding with the Indians on the banks of the Ohio.
While this design was yet in contemplation, and before an attempt had been made to carry it into execution, the French Governor of Canada took the alarm, and wrote letters to the Governors of New York and Pennsylvania, giving them to understand that they were about to encroach on the territories of France, and requesting them to desist imme. diately from their purposed undertaking. To this intimation no regard was paid. The English, however, continued their traffic with the Indians, as before, and three of their number were arrested by the French, taken to Canada, and their effects afterward confiscated. A remonstrance was thereupon made to the French government by the Earl of Albemarle, the English embassador at Paris, and the English traders were immedia tely set at liberty. The court of Versailles promised also to send orders to the French governors in North America, requiring them at all times to use their influence and authority to prevent, as much as possible, disputes between rival traders, that would tend to disturb, and perhaps destroy, the harmony and good-will which then existed between the French and English nations. The orders, however, transmitted, to all intents and purposes contradicted their professions. The French officers in Canada, their partisans and agents, instead of heeding such friendly admonitions, became afterward more active than before, and strove harder than ever to embroil the Indians in a war with the English. They redoubled also their efforts to weaken the influence of the latter, and to strengthen their own; and in so doing, were aided to a considerable extent by the folly and presumption of the Ohio company.
The Indians, having been told by the French traders that their lands had been given away without their knowledge, and that forts were about to be erected in their country without their consent, became alarmed ; and Mr. Gist, who had been employed by the company to survey the banks of the Ohio, having had recourse to some foolish expedients to conceal his designs, and having behaved in a dark and mysterious manner, the jealousy of the natives, often inquisitive, and sometimes addicted to suspicions, was naturally aroused.
The incorporation of an exclusive company, calculated, of course, to deprive individual traders of a profitable branch of industry, was offensive also in its character to a class of individuals, who, if not the most respecta. ble, are often the most numerous and influential upon the borders. Oppo, sition to the English arose, therefore, in a quarter from whence it was not expected; and the concurrence of the savages, having neither been obtained nor solicited, they regarded the English with an evil eye, and their unauthorized inroads as the invasion of their country. It was reasonable then for the Indians to seek, and natural for the French to lend, assistance to the savages in the war that ensued. That the Indians thus situated, should have subsequently fought under the banners of France, ought not then to excite, even for a moment, our wonder or surprise.
The French during this period fortified themselves at leisure, and har. assed the English traders with impunity.
Complaints, however, soon reached the Governor of Virginia ; and in the fall of 1753, he dispatched Major Washington, (afterward commander-in-chief of the American armies,) then in the twenty-second year of his age, with a letter to the French commandant on the Ohio, wishing to be informed, “ by whose authority his Britannic majesty's territories had been invaded ;” and “ requiring him to depart in peace.” Major Washington having received instructions from Robert Dinwiddie, Esq., at that time Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, set out in obedience thereto on the same day he received them, and on the 14th of November reached Will's Creek, then a frontier settlement in his native State.
Proceeding from thence without delay, by incessant toil, now fording rivers, now crossing morasses, exposed during the whole journey to the elements, he reached at last the head-quarters of the French commandant, near Lake Erie. On the 12th of December he delivered his mes. sage, received an answer, and on the 16th of January following, (1754,) returned to Williamsburgh, then, and for a long time afterward, the capital of Virginia.
Although the answer was one of defiance, and the mission therefore abortive, the manner in which its duties were performed reflected credit on Major Washington, and constituted the first link in the chain of events which rendered his name immortal.
The French commandant, having indicated in his letter no intention to withdraw, preparations were at once commenced in Virginia to assert her rights. A regiment of three hundred men was immediately raised, and Major Washington appointed its lieutenant-colonel. Arriving with two companies in advance of his regiment at the Great Meadows, among the Alleghany mountains, in April, 1754, he was informed by some friendly Indians, that the French, having dispersed a party of workmen employed by the Ohio company, to build a fort on the southeastern branch of the river, were themselves erecting a fortress at the junction of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers, (now Pittsburgh,) and that a detachment from thence, apparently with hostile views, were approaching his camp. Hostilities had not yet commenced. The British tepritories, however, were invaded, and self-preservation appealed to his sober judgment for advice. Amid forests remote from aid, and surrounded by savages, hostile or of doubtful attachment, such appeals are frequently made, and among pru. dent, reflecting men, never in vain. The advancing party having withdrawn at some distance from the path, and encamped for the night in a thick bottom, as if for concealment, furnished of itself, as Col. Washington supposed, evidence of unfriendly intentions. He resolved, therefore, to anticipate their a!tack; and availing himself of the offer made by the friendly Indians, who brought intelligence of their approach, to serve him as guides, he proceeded at once in a dark and stormy night to the French encampment. Marching in perfect silence, he encompassed it before day on every side, and as soon as the first glimmerings of light appeared, his troops fired, rushed in upon and captured (with one exception,) the whole party without a struggle. One man alone, M. Junonville, the command.