Abbildungen der Seite

Henry Lee of Virginia, but considerations of rank deterred him. He then selected and appointed Wayne, who recently had got into politics and been deprived, on a contested election, of his seat in the House. No little grumbling ensued over this appointment, especially in Virginia, but it was unheeded by the President, and its causes now are not

very clear. The event proved the wisdom of the choice, as so often happened with Washington, and it is easy to see the reason for it. Wayne was one of the shining figures of our Revolution, appealing strongly to the imagination of posterity. He was not a great general in the highest sense, but he was a brilliant corps-commander, capable of daring feats of arms like the storming of Stony Point. He was capable also of dashing with heedless courage into desperate places, and incurring thereby defeat and consequent censure, but escaping entire ruin through the same quickness of action that had involved him in trouble. He was well fitted for the bold and rapid movement required in Indian warfare, and with him Washington put well chosen subordinates, selected evidently for their fighting capacity, for he clearly was determined that this should be at all events a fighting campaign.

Wayne, after his appointment, betook himself to Pittsburg, and proceeded with characteristic energy to raise and organize his army, a work of no little difficulty because he wished to have picked men. Washington did all that could be done to help him, and at the same time pushed negotiations with

admirable patience, but with very varying success. Kirkland brought chiefs of the Six Nations to Congress with good results, and the Cherokees were pacified by additional presents. On the other hand, the Creeks were restless, stirred up always by Spain, and two brave officers, sent to try for peace with the western tribes, were murdered in cold blood. Nevertheless, treaties were patched up with some of them, and a great council was held in the fall of 1792, the Six Nations acting as mediators, which resulted in a badly kept armistice, but in nothing of lasting value. The next year Congress passed a general act regulating trade and intercourse with the Indians, and Washington appointed yet another commission to visit the northwestern tribes, more to satisfy public opinion than with any hope of peace. Indeed, these commissioners never succeeded in even meeting the Indians, who rejected in advance all proposals which would not concede the Ohio as the boundary. English influence, it was said, was at the bottom of this demand, and there seems to be little doubt that such was the


for England and France were now at war, and England thereupon had redoubled her efforts to injure the United States by every sort of petty outrage both on sea and land. This masterly policy had perhaps reasons for its existence which pass beyond the average understanding, but, so far as any one can now discover, it seems to have had no possible motive except to feed an ancient grudge and drive the country into the arms of France. Carried on for

a long time in secret, this Indian intrigue came to the surface in a speech made by Lord Dorchester to the western tribes, in which, according to report, he prophesied a speedy rupture with the United States and urged his hearers to continue war. It is worth remembering that for five years, covertly or openly, England did her best to keep an Indian war with all that it implied alive upon our borders,

the borders of a friendly nation with whom she was at peace.

But while Washington persistently negotiated, he as persistently prepared to fight, not trusting overmuch either the savages or the English. Wayne, with similar views, moved his army forward in the autumn of 1793 to a point six miles beyond Fort Jefferson, and then went into winter-quarters. Early in the spring of 1794 he was in motion again and advanced to St. Clair's battlefield, where he built Fort Recovery, and where he was attacked by the Indians, whom he repulsed after two days' fighting. He then marched in an unexpected direction and struck the central villages at the junction of the Au Glaize and Maumee. The surprised savages fled, and Wayne burned their village, laid waste their extensive fields, and built Fort Defiance. To the Indians, who had retreated thirty miles down the Maumee to the shelter of a British post, he sent word that he was ready to treat. The reply came back asking for a delay of ten days; but Wayne at once advanced, and found the Indians prepared for battle near the English fort. The ground was

unfavorable, especially for cavalry, but Wayne made good arrangements and attacked. The Indians gave way before the bayonet, and were completely routed, the American loss being only one hundred and seven men. The

army was not averse to storming the English fort ; but Wayne, with unusual caution, contented himself with a sharp correspondence with the commandant, and then withdrew after a most successful campaign. The next year, strengthened by his victory and by the surrender of the British posts under the Jay treaty, Wayne made a treaty with the western tribes by which vast tracts of disputed territory were ceded to the United States, and peace was established in that long troubled region.

On the southern frontier there were no such fortunate results. While Washington was negotiating and fighting in the north and west, all his patient efforts were frustrated in the south by the conduct of Georgia. The borderers kept assailing the Indians, peaceful tribes being generally chosen for the purpose; and the State itself broke through and disregarded all treaties and all arrangements made by the United States. The result was constant disquiet and chronic war, with the usual accompaniments of fire, murder, and pillage.

On the whole, however, when Washington left the presidency, his Indian policy had been a marked

In place of uncertainty and weakness, a definite general system had been adopted. The northern and western tribes had been beaten and


pacified, and the southern incursions and disorders had been much checked. The British posts, the most dangerous centres of Indian intrigue, had been abandoned, and the great regions of the west and northwest had been opened to the tide of settlement. These results were due to a well-defined plan, and above all to the persistent vigor which pushed steadily forward to its object without swinging, as had been done before, between feverish and often misdirected activity and complete and feeble inaction. They were achieved, too, amid many difficulties, for there was anything but a unanimous support of the government in its Indian affairs. The opposition grumbled at the expense, and said that money needlessly raised by taxation was squandered in Indian wars, while the great body of the people, living safely along the eastern coast, thought but little about the frontier. Some persons took the sentimental view and considered the government barbarous to make causeless war. Others believed that altogether too much of the public time and money were wasted in looking after outlying settlements. The borderers themselves, on the other hand, thought that the general government was in league with the savages, and broke through treaties, , and destroyed so far as they could the national policy. St. Clair was hissed and jeered as he travelled home, but a wakeful opposition turned from the unsuccessful general to a vain attempt to prove that ambushed savages and sleeping sentries were due to a weak war department and a corrupt and

« ZurückWeiter »