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   Chapter 6 THE FIRST GREAT PROBLEMS OF THE INDIANS

The Wonderful Story of Washington By Charles M. Stevens Characters: 4290

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:04


From small events in the deep wilderness, human interests were forming into the flow of incalculable affairs. The Ohio Indians had gathered in council with their English brethren at Logstown, and entered into a treaty not to molest any English settlers in the territory claimed by the Ohio Company. The Six Nations of Iroquois to the northeast had very haughtily declined to attend the conference. This was because they were nearer the French and under their influence.

"It is not our custom," said an Iroquois chief, "to meet to treat of affairs in the woods and weeds. If the Governor of Virginia wants to speak with us, we will meet him at Albany, where we expect the Governor of New York to be present."

Washington and His Family.

On the other side, the Ohio Indians sent a protest to the French at Lake Erie.

"Fathers," said the messenger, "you are the disturbers of this land by building towns, and taking the country from us by fraud and force. 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. Our brothers, the English, have heard this, and I now come to tell it to you, for I am not afraid to order you off this land."

"Child," was the reply of the French commander, "you talk foolishly. I am not afraid of flies and mosquitoes, for such are those who oppose me. Take back your wampum. I fling it at you."

It became evident that the French intended to connect Canada with Louisiana by a chain of forts and so confine the English to the coast east of the Alleghanies. This meant the ruin of the Ohio Company. A strong appeal was made to Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia. He was a stockholder in the Ohio Company and was accordingly a ready listener to the danger of losing the Ohio country.

Governor Dinwiddie sent a commissioner with a protest to the French, who were rapidly breaking their way through from Canada, defeating the hostile Indians, and breaking to pieces their confidence in their English brothers. Captain Trent was the ma

n selected for this dangerous and delicate task. He went to Logstown and then on into the Indian country, where the French had scattered the Indians and established their authority.

Trent could not see anything to do and he returned home a failure. This made matters worse, and required a still stronger man, able to restore the lost confidence of the Indians and to impress the French with the determination and power of the English. There was only one man who seemed qualified for such a hazardous undertaking, and he was only twenty-two years of age. This was George Washington.

He was appointed to the dangerous mission and given full instructions in writing. With the required equipment, Washington set forth on the remarkable journey, which was the beginning of his great career as the maker of a nation. The record of this great adventure belongs to history and little can be done toward telling any part of it without telling enough to make a book. The journey contained all the perils of such a wilderness, the usual intrigues characteristic of the times in the dealing with the Indians, and the customary experience of frontier diplomacy between two rival colonies, of which the mother countries were at peace. But with a thoroughness that was possible only to one who had made thoroughness an object and a habit of his life, Washington noted everything he saw among the tribes, at the French outposts, and at the French headquarters.

Washington had started with his message from Governor Dinwiddie on October 30, and he returned with the reply, January 16. The long journey through the trackless forests of the winter wilderness had been one of almost incredible hardship and peril, where his life many times appeared hopeless, but he won out and performed his mission. It is probable that nothing throughout his wonderful career was more trying to his character or more evidence of his indomitable manhood. One who was able to perform successfully such a mission, and bring back such a clear view of the situation, was henceforth to be rated as one of the worthiest sons of Virginia, and a reliable guardian of her fortunes.

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