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Title: Sir William Johnson and the Six Nations
Author: Griffis, William Elliot
Language: English
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                         SIR  WILLIAM  JOHNSON
                           The  Six  Nations

                         “MAKERS  OF  AMERICA”

                         SIR  WILLIAM  JOHNSON


                           The  Six  Nations


                        WILLIAM  ELLIOT  GRIFFIS


                               NEW  YORK
                       DODD,  MEAD,  AND  COMPANY

                            Copyright, 1891
                         By Dodd, Mead, and Co.
                          All rights reserved.

                           University Press:
                    John Wilson and Son, Cambridge.


      Like my friend, the late Judge John Sanders, of Scotia,
  Schenectady County, N. Y., who took off his hat when meeting
  descendants of the heroes of Oriskany, the bloodiest, the most
  stubbornly contested, and perhaps the decisive battle in the War
  of the American Revolution, the writer makes his bow to the
  people of the Mohawk Valley, and to them, and to the memory
  of their brave ancestors, dedicates this sketch of one of the Makers
  of America.

                             P R E F A C E.

THE Mohawk Valley in which Sir William Johnson spent his adult life
(1738–1774) was the fairest portion of the domain of the Six Nations of
the Iroquois Confederacy. In this valley I lived nine years, seeing on
every side traces or monuments of the industry, humanity, and powerful
personality of its most famous resident in colonial days. From the
quaint stone church in Schenectady which he built, and in whose canopied
pews he sat, daily before my eyes, to the autograph papers in possession
of my neighbours; from sites close at hand and traditionally associated
with the lord of Johnson Hall, to the historical relics which multiply
at Johnstown, Canajoharie, and westward,—mementos of the baronet were
never lacking. His two baronial halls still stand near the Mohawk. I
found that local tradition, while in the main generous to his memory,
was sometimes unfair and even cruel. The hatreds engendered by the
partisan features of the Revolution, and the just detestation of the
savage atrocities of Tories and red allies led by Johnson’s son and
son-in-law, had done injustice to the great man himself. Yet base and
baseless tradition was in no whit more unjust than the sectional
opinions and hostile gossip of the New England militia which historians
have so freely transferred to their pages.

In the following pages no attempt at either laudation or depreciation
has been made. My purpose has been simply to set forth the actions,
influence, and personality of Sir William Johnson, to show the character
of the people by whom he was surrounded, and to describe and analyze the
political movements of his time. I confess I have not depicted New York
people in the sectional spirit and subjective manner in which they are
so often treated by New England writers. The narrow and purely local
view of some of these who have written what is called the history of the
United States, greatly vitiates their work in the eyes of those who do
not inherit their prejudices. Having no royal charter, the composite
people of New York, gathered from many nations, but instinct with the
principles of the free republic of Holland, were obliged to study
carefully the foundations of government and jurisprudence. It is true
that in the evolution of this Commonwealth the people were led by the
lawyers rather than by the clergy. Constantly resisting the invasions of
royal prerogative, they formed on an immutable basis of law and right
that Empire State which in its construction and general features is, of
all those in the Union, the most typically American. Its historical
precedents are not found in a monarchy, but in a republic. It is less
the fruit of English than of Teutonic civilization.

Living also but a few yards away from the home of Arendt Van Curler, the
“Brother Corlaer” of Indian tradition, and immediately alongside the
site of the old gate opening from the palisades into the Mohawk country,
I could from my study windows look daily upon the domain of the
Mohawks,—the places of treaties, ceremonies, and battles, of the
torture and burning of captives, and upon the old maize-lands, even yet
rich after the husbandry of centuries. Besides visiting many of the
sites of the Iroquois castles, I have again and again traversed the
scenes of Johnson’s exploits in Central New York, at Lake George, in
Eastern Pennsylvania, and other places mentioned in the text. With my
task is associated the remembrance of many pleasant outings as well as
meetings with local historians, antiquarians, and students of Indian
lore. I have treated more fully the earlier part of Johnson’s life which
is less known, and more briefly the events of the latter part which is
comparatively familiar to all. I trust I have not been unfair to the red
men while endeavouring to show the tremendous influence exerted over
them by Johnson; who, for this alone, deserves to be enrolled among the
Makers of America.

My chief sources of information have been the Johnson manuscripts, which
have been carefully mounted, bound, and are preserved in the State
Library at Albany. They were indexed by my friends, the late Rev. Dr. H.
A. Homes, and Mr. George R. Howell, the accomplished secretary of the
Albany Institute. To the former I am especially indebted. The printed
book to which I owe special obligations is Mr. William L. Stone’s “Life
and Times of Sir William Johnson, Bart.” These two superbly written
octavo volumes, richly annotated and indexed, make any detailed life of
Johnson unnecessary, and form a noble and enduring monument of patient

For generous assistance at various points and in details, I have to
thank, and hereby do so most heartily, Mr. Edward F. De Lancey, of New
York; Mr. William L. Stone, of Jersey City; Prof. A. L. Perry, of
Williams College; Mr. Berthold Fernow, keeper of the State Archives,
Albany; Rev. J. A. De Baun, D. D., of Fonda; Rev. J. H. Hubbs, of Grand
Rapids, Mich.; Rev. Henry R. Swinnerton, of Cherry Valley; Mr. R. A.
Grider, the chief American specialist and collector of powder-horns and
their art and literature; Mr. A. G. Richmond, archæologist in Indian
relics, of Canajoharie, N. Y.; Mrs. I. E. Wells of Johnson Hall at
Johnstown; Mr. Ethan Akin, of Fort Johnson at Akin near Fonda; James
Fuller, Esq., of Schenectady, N. Y.; and Major J. W. MacMurray, U. S.
N.; besides various descendants of the militiamen who served under the
illustrious Irishman who is the subject of the following pages.

                                                                W. E. G.
Boston, Mass.,
     May 21, 1891.

                         CHRONOLOGICAL OUTLINE.

         =1400–1600 A. D.=      Occupation of the region between
                                  the Niagara and the Hudson
                                  River by the Indian tribes
                                  of the Long House.
                  { July 29.    Defeat of the Iroquois near
                  {               Ticonderoga, N. Y., by
                  {               Champlain.
         =1609=,  { Sept. 1-23. Hendrick Hudson explores the
                  {               river as far as the Mohawk.

         =1613.=   Hollanders build on Manhattan and Nassau
         =1617.=   Iroquois form an alliance with the Dutch.
         =1623.=   Jesse De Forest and the Walloons settle and
                     found New York City.—Fort Orange
                     built.—Settlement at Albany.
         =1630.=   Patroon Kilian Van Rensselaer.—Arrival of
                     Arendt Van Curler.
         =1642.=   Van Curler enters the Mohawk Valley and
                     ransoms Isaac Jogues.
         =1661.=   Van Curler founds the city of Schenectady.
         =1664.=   English Conquest of New Netherlands.
         =1667.=   Kryn leads the Caughnawaga Indians to Canada.
         =1690.=   Massacre at Schenectady.
         =1710.=   Palatine Germans in New York.
         =1713.=   The Tuscaroras join the Iroquois Confederacy.
         =1715.=   Sir William Johnson born.
         =1722.=   Palatines settle in Mohawk Valley.—Oswego
         =1738.=   Johnson settled at Warrensburgh, N. Y.
         =1740.=   Johnson made head of the Indian Department.
         =1754.=   The Congress and Council at Albany.
         =1755.=   Battle of Lake George.
         =1757.=   Massacre at German Flats.
         =1759.=   Surrender of Niagara to Johnson.—Fall of
                     Quebec and the French power in America.
         =1763.=   Conspiracy of Pontiac.—Johnstown founded, and
                     Johnson Hall built.
         =1768.=   Treaty at Fort Stanwix.
         =1770.=   January 18, First bloodshed of the
         =1771.=   First battle of the Revolution at Alamance,
                     N. C.
         =1772.=   Division of Albany County.—Johnstown made the
                     county-seat of Tryon County.
         =1774.=   Death of Sir William Johnson.
         =1777.=   Battle of Oriskany.
         =1778.=   Massacre at Cherry Valley.
         =1779.=   Brant at Minnisink.—General Sullivan’s
                     Expedition against the Six Nations.
         =1782.=   New York’s Western lands transferred to the
         =1783.=   Tories banished from the Mohawk Valley.

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS.

             PREFACE                                              vii
             CHRONOLOGICAL OUTLINE                                 xi
          I. THE FIRST SETTLERS OF THE MOHAWK VALLEY                1
         II. JOHNSON AS AN INDIAN TRADER                           11
        III. THE SIX NATIONS AND THE LONG HOUSE                    35
         IV. THE STRUGGLE FOR A CONTINENT                          61
          V. A CHAPTER IN THE STORY OF LIBERTY                     80
         VI. A TYPICAL FRONTIER FIGHT WITH INDIANS                 92
        VII. AT THE ANCIENT PLACE OF TREATIES                     109
       VIII. THE BATTLE OF LAKE GEORGE                            132
          X. THE “HEAVEN-BORN GENERAL”                            167
        XII. LIFE AT JOHNSON HALL                                 194
             INDEX                                                223

                               CHAPTER I.

THE MOHAWK VALLEY was first settled by men escaping from feudalism. The
manor-system, a surviving relic of the old days of lordship and
villeinage, had long cursed England, Germany, and Holland, though first
outgrown and thrown off in the latter country. It was from this system,
almost as much as from Church laws, that the Pilgrim Fathers were glad
to escape and find free labour as well as liberty of conscience in
Holland,—the land where they “heard,” and found by experience, “that
all men were free.”

The Netherlands was the political training-school of the Pilgrims, and
of most of the leaders of the Puritans, who before 1640 settled New
England. In America they were more fortunate than their more southern
neighbours, in that they were freed from the semi-feudalism of the Dutch
Patroons and the manor-lords of Maryland and Virginia. The Hollanders,
on coming to New Netherland and settling under the Patroons, enjoyed far
less liberty than when in their own country. They were practically under
a new sort of feudalism unknown in their “Patria.” Their Teutonic
instincts and love of freedom soon, however, drove them to relinquish
their temporary advantages as manor-tenants, and to purchase land from
the Indians and settle in the “Woestina,” or wilderness. These Dutch
farmers cheerfully braved the dangers and inconveniences of “the bush,”
in order to hold land in fee simple and be their own masters.

It was this spirit of independence that led a little company of worthy
sons or grandsons of men who had fought under William the Silent, to
settle in the “Great Flat,” or Mohawk Valley. They were led by Arendt
Van Curler, who, though first-cousin of the absentee Patroon Van
Rensselaer, of Rensselaerwyck, had educated himself out of the silken
meshes of semi-feudalism. Finding men like-minded with himself, who
believed that the patroon or manor-system was a bad reversion in
political evolution, he led out the Dutch freemen, and founded the city
of Schenectady. On the land made sacred to the Mohawks for centuries, by
reason of council-fires and immemorial graves, this free settlement
began. Here, not indeed for the first time in New Netherlands, and yet
at a period when the proceeding was a novelty, the settlers held land in
fee simple, and demanded the rights of trade.

It was before 1660 that these men, who would rather have gone back to
Patria, or Holland, than become semi-serfs under a manor-lord, came to
Van Curler, or “Brother Corlaer” as the Iroquois called him, and asked
him to lead them westward. In Fort Orange, July 21, 1661, in due legal
form, by purchase from and satisfaction to the Mohawk Indian chiefs, the
Indian title was extinguished. Thus, by a procedure as honourable and
generous as William Penn’s agreement with the Lenni Lenapes under the
great elm at Shackamaxon, was signalized the entrance of Germanic
civilization in the Mohawk Valley.

Early in the spring of 1662 Van Curler led his fourteen freemen and
their families into their new possession. Travelling westward, up what
is now Clinton Avenue in Albany, until they reached Norman’s Kill, they
struck northward, following the Indian trail of blazed trees, until
after a circuit of twenty miles they reached their future home, on a low
plateau on the banks of the Mohawk. On this old site of an Indian
village they began the erection of their houses, mill, church, and
palisades. The aboriginal name of the village, from which the Mohawks
had removed, pointed to the vast piles of driftwood deposited on the
river-flats after the spring floods; but not till after the English
conquest did any one apply the old Indian name of the site of
Albany—that is, “Schenectady”—to Van Curler’s new settlement. Both
French and Indians called the village “Corlaer,” even as they also
called the Mohawk River “the river of Corlaer,” and the sheet of water
in which he was drowned, not after its discoverer, Champlain, but
“Corlaer’s Lake.” Nevertheless, since the Mohawks had already retired
from the Hudson River, and “the place outside the door of the Long
House” was no longer Albany, but “Corlaer,” they and the Europeans, soon
after 1664, began to speak of the new settlement as “Schenectady;”
especially, as by their farther retirement up the valley, “Corlaer” was
now the true “Schenectady;” that is, outside the door of the Iroquois
confederacy or Long House. Schenectady enjoys the honour of being more
variously spelled than any other place in the United States; and its
name has been derived from Iroquois, German, and Japanese, in which
languages it is possible to locate the word as a compound. It is a
softened form of a long and very guttural Indian word.

Then was begun, by these Dutch freeholders, the long fight of fifty
years for freedom of trade with the Indians. Their contest was against
the restrictive jealousy of Albany, including both Colony and Manor.
With Dutch tenacity they held on, until victory at last crowned their
persistence in 1727.

In a word, in its initiation and completion, the opening of the Mohawk
Valley to civilization forms a noble episode in the story of American
freedom. One of the first places in New York on which the forces
representing feudalism and opposed to freeholding of land, and on which
mediæval European notions arrayed against the ideas which had made
America were beaten back, was at Schenectady, in the throat of the
Mohawk Valley. Here was struck by liberty-loving Hollanders a key-note,
of which the long strain has not yet ceased.

The immigrants who next followed the Dutch pioneers,—like them, as real
settlers, and not as land-speculators and manor-builders,—and who
penetrated still farther westward up the valley, were not English, but
German. These people, who, as unarmed peasants in the Rhine Valley, had
been unable to resist the invasion of Louis XIV. or to face the rigours
of poverty in their desolated homeland, made the best sort of colonists
in America. Brought by the British Government to settle on remote
frontiers, to bear the brunt of contact with Indians, Spaniards, and
Frenchmen, these sturdy Protestants soon proved their ability, not only
to stand their ground, but to be lively thorns in the sides of despotic
landlords, crown-agents, and governors.

The “first American rebel” Leisler, born at Mannheim in Germany, was a
people’s man. In his own rude way he acted with the intent of making
ideas dominant then, which are commonplace now. His “rebellion” grew out
of a boast made by the British Lieutenant-Governor Nicholson, that the
Dutch colonists were a conquered people, and not entitled to the right
of English citizenship. Hanged, by order of a drunken English governor,
near the site of the Tribune Building, May 16, 1691, it is more than
probable that he will yet have his statue in the metropolitan city of
America. He belongs to the list of haters of what is falsely named
aristocracy, the un-American state-church combination, and other relics
of feudalism which survive in England, but which had been cast off by
the Dutch Republic, in whose service as a soldier he had come to
America. His place in the list of the winners of American liberty is

Under Governor Hunter’s auspices, in 1710, nearly three thousand Germans
from the Palatinate settled along the Hudson and in New York. By a third
immigration, in 1722, ten per cent was added to the population by the
Palatines, who settled all along the Mohawk Valley, advancing farther
westward into the “Woestina.” At German Flats and at Palatine Bridge
their “concentration” was greatest. So jealous were the money-loving
English of their wool-monopoly, that these Germans were forbidden under
extreme penalties to engage in the woollen manufacture. The same intense
jealousy and love of lucre which, until the Revolution, kept at home all
army contracts that could possibly be fulfilled in Great Britain,
prescribed the ban which was laid on the Mohawk Valley Palatines. With
chains thus forged upon the Germans, who were expected to furnish “naval
stores,” there was no encouragement for them to raise sheep or improved
stock. In this way it happened that Sir William Johnson was later
enabled to boast that he was the first who introduced fine sheep and
other live-stock in the Mohawk Valley.

The characteristics of these Germans were an intense love of liberty,
and a deep-seated hatred against feudalism and the encroachments of
monarchy in every form. The great land-owners, both Dutch and English,
who wished to use these people as serfs, found that they possessed
strange notions of liberty. Poor as they were, they were more like
hornets to sting than blue-bottles to be trapped with molasses. The
Hessian fly had a barb in his tail. Loyal to the Crown, they refused to
submit to the tyranny of the great landlords. It was one of these
Germans, a poor immigrant, that first fought and won the battle of the
freedom of speech and of the press. Now, intrenched in the Constitution
of the United States, it is to us almost like one of the numerous
“glittering generalities” of the Declaration of Independence, at which
Englishmen smile, but which Americans, including the emancipated
negroes, find so real. Then the freedom of the press was a dream. In
1734 John Peter Zenger, who incarnated the spirit and conscience of
these Palatine Germans, was editor of the “New York Weekly Journal.” He
was reproached as a foreigner and immigrant, for daring to criticise the
royal representatives, or ever to touch upon the prerogatives of
Governor Cosby, the king’s foolish representative. Zenger was
imprisoned, but managed to edit his paper while in jail. At his trial he
was defended by Hamilton, a lawyer from a colony whose constitution had
been written by the son of a Dutch mother, in Holland, where printing
had been free a century or more before it was even partially free in
England. James Alexander Hamilton was the Scottish lawyer who had left
his European home, to the detriment of his fortune, in order to enjoy
richer liberty in Pennsylvania. He it was who first purchased
Independence Square in Philadelphia, for the erection thereon of the
State House, in which the Liberty Bell was to hang, and “proclaim
liberty to all the land, and to all the inhabitants thereof.” Going to
New York at his own expense, he, without fee, defended Zenger and
secured his acquittal. This event marks an important point in the making
of America and in the story of American freedom. It was in its effects
as significant as the skirmish at Lexington. The doctrine, novel at that
time in England but not in Holland, was advanced, that the truth of the
facts in the alleged libel could be set up as defence, and that in this
proceeding the jury were judges both of the law and the facts.

Though hundreds of Germans left New York for the greater advantage of
land and the liberty of Pennsylvania, which had been settled under
republican influences, yet those Palatines who rooted themselves in the
Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys proved one of the best stocks which have
made the American people. They were never popular with the men or women
who wanted to make America a new London or a new England, with courts
and castles, aristocracy and nobles, so called, entail and
primogeniture, the landlords of feudal domain, and other old-world
burdens. Honest, industrious, brave, God-fearing, truthful, and clean,
they soon dotted the virgin forest with clearings, farms, and churches.
Whatever else in their wanderings they lost or were robbed of, they
usually managed to hold to their hymn-books and Bibles, and, in the case
of the Reformed Churchmen, their Heidelberg Catechism. Their brethren in
Pennsylvania—the holy land of German-Americans—published the first
Bible in America, printed in a European tongue; and many early copies
found their way northward. They lived on terms of peace with the
Indians, treating these sons of the soil with kindness, and helping them
in generous measure to the benefits of Christianity. The most honest and
influential of Johnson’s Indian interpreters were of Dutch or German

Though other nationalities—Scottish, Irish, English—afterward helped
to make the Mohawk Valley at first polyglot, and then cosmopolitan, it
was by people of two of the strongest branches of the Teutonic race that
this fertile region was first settled. The dominant idea of these people
was freedom under law, reinforced by hearty contempt for the injustice
which masquerades under the forms of prerogative and of “majesty.” For
all the self-styled, insolent vicegerents of God, in both Church and
State, they felt a detestation, and were glad to find in America none of
these. If found, they felt bound to resist them unto the end. Theirs was
the democratic idea in Church and State, and they expressed it strongly.

It was this spirit which explains the rude and rough treatment, by
Germans of both sexes, of arrogant royal agents and landlords in the
Schoharie Valley, and which at the erection of churches built by public
money, in which only a liturgical sect could worship, led to turbulence
and riot. Certain historic old edifices now standing were once finished
only after the king’s bayonets had been summoned to protect masons and
carpenters from people who hated the very sight of an established or
government church, built even partly by taxation, but shut to those of
the sects not officially patronized.

Among such a people, strong in the virtues of unspoiled manhood;
exhilarant with the atmosphere and splendid possibilities of the New
World; trained in the school of Luther’s Bible and the Heidelberg
Catechism; taught by Dutch laws commanding purchase of land from the
aborigines, and by the powerful example of Van Curler and their domines
or pastors, to be kind to the Indians,—Sir William Johnson, one of the
greatest of the makers of our America, came in 1738. It was the daughter
of one of the people of this heroic stock that he married. At a
susceptible age he learned their ideas and way of looking at things,
especially at their method of justly treating the Indians of the Six
Nations, who were looked upon as the rightful owners of the soil. Among
these people Johnson lived all his adult life. He was ever in kindly
sympathy with them, never sharing the supercilious contempt of those who
were and who are ignorant alike of their language, abilities, and


[1] See “The Leisler Troubles of 1689,” by Rev. A. G. Vermilye, D.D. New
York. 1891.

                              CHAPTER II.
                      JOHNSON AS AN INDIAN TRADER.

THERE is probably no good foundation for the local tradition, mentioned
by Gen. J. Watts De Peyster, in his Life of Gen. John Johnson (Preface,
p. ii, note), that the family name of William Johnson was originally
“Jansen, and that the first who bore it and settled in Ireland was a
Hollander, who, like many of his countrymen, went over afterward with
William III. in 1690, won lands and established themselves in Ireland.”
The subject is not mentioned in the Encyclopædia Britannica, and but
slightly treated in English works of reference, while he has been
unjustly slighted by American writers of history. According to his own
account, William Johnson was born in Smithtown, County Meath, near
Dublin, Ireland, in 1715.[2] His mother was Anne Warren, sister of the
brothers Oliver and Peter, who became famous officers in the British
Navy; and his father, Christopher Johnson, Esq. Writers and biographers
enlarge upon the ancient and honourable lineage of his mother’s family,
but say little about his father’s. To an American this matters less than
to those who must have a long line of known ancestry, real, reputed, or

After some schooling at a classical academy, William was trained to a
mercantile career. When about twenty-two years old, he fell in love with
a lass whom his parents refused to permit him to marry. This obstacle,
like a pebble that turns the course of the rivulet that is to become a
great river, shaped anew his life. The new channel for his energies was
soon discovered.

His uncle, Capt. Peter Warren, R. N., who had just returned from a
cruise, heard of his nephew’s unhappy experience, and made him the offer
of a position promising both wealth and adventure. Land speculation was
then rife; and Captain Warren, like many other naval officers, had
joined in the rush for lucre by buying land in the fertile Mohawk
Valley. This was in addition to land which was part of his wife’s dowry,
so that his estate was large, amounting, it is said, to fifteen thousand
acres. He appointed young Johnson his agent, to work his farm and sell
his building-lots. The young Irishman at once responded to the
proposition. He crossed the Atlantic, and promptly reported in New York.

Captain Warren, then about thirty years old, had married Susan, the
oldest daughter of Stephen De Lancey; and it was probably to the old
house, then thirty-eight years old, which still stands (in which
Washington took farewell of his generals in 1783), that the young
Irishman came. He was possessed of a fine figure, tall and strong, was
full of ambition and energy, with a jovial temper, and a power of quick
adaptation to his surroundings. In short, he was a typical specimen of
that race in which generous impulses are usually uppermost, and one of
the mighty army of Celtic immigrants who have helped to make of the
American people that composite which so puzzles the insular Englishman
to understand.

New York and Albany people were already getting rich by inland as well
as foreign trade, and the naval officer wished to invest what cash he
could spare from his salary or prize money in a mercantile venture, to
be begun at first on a modest scale in a frontier store. “Dear Billy,”
as his uncle addressed him in his letters, was not long in discovering
that the ambition of nearly every young man was to get rich, either in
the inland fur or West India trade, so as to own a manor, work it with
negro slaves, and join in the pomp and social splendour for which the
colony was already noted. It is more than probable that the ambition to
be rich and influential was strongly reinforced during his stay on
Manhattan Island.

The journey north, made according to the regular custom, was by sloop up
the Hudson, past the Palisades, the Highlands, the Catskills, and the
Flats, to Albany. After a few days in the only municipality north of New
York,—a log city with a few smart brick houses,—spent in laying in
supplies, the young immigrant would pass through the pine-barrens, and
after a day’s journey reach the State Street gate of palisaded

In the house of the tapster, or innkeeper, he would probably stay all
night. He would find the Street of the Martyrs (so named after the
massacre of 1690), and of the Traders, together with Front, Ferry,
Church, and Niskayuna Streets, lined with comfortable, one-storied,
many-gabled dwellings, with here and there neat houses, all or partly of
brick. Each house stood with its cosey bivalve door, shut at the bottom
to keep out pigs and chickens and to keep in the babes, and open at the
top to admit light and air. The scrupulously neat floors spoke of the
hereditary Dutch virtue of cleanliness. On the table could be seen a
wealth of plain but wholesome food, such as few farmer-folk in the old
countries of Europe could boast of. The bill of fare would include the
well-cured hams for which “the Dorp” was famous, all kinds of savoury
products of the hog, besides every sort of bread, pie, cake, and plain
pastry, baked to a shining brown in the ample ovens of stone or brick,
which swelled like domes outside of the houses, at the rear of the
kitchens. Savoury and toothsome were the rich “crullers” which Captain
Croll, the good church-elder and garrison-commander of Rensselaerwyck,
had invented during a winter-season of meat-famine. On many a house
veered iron weathercocks, especially on the few brick fronts monogrammed
with dates in anchors of iron; while on the new church, only four years
old, but the third in the history of the growing town, glittered the
cock of Saint Nicholas in gilt. It rested over a belfry which held a
most melodious bell, cast at Amsterdam, in dear old “Patria,” in the rim
of which, as well-founded tradition insisted, many a silver guilder,
spoon, and trinket had been melted. Perhaps Johnson, like many a
European and even New England militiaman, did not understand why the
Dutch built their stone fortress-like churches at the intersection of
two streets. Some even hinted at stupidity; but the Dutchmen, for the
same reason that they loop-holed the walls, so located their chief
public buildings at the centre of the village as to be able to sweep the
cross streets with their gun-fire in case of an attack by French or
Indians, or both.

In Schenectady, Johnson would find that many of the men were away in the
Indian country, with their canoes and currency of strouds, duffels, and
trinkets, trading for furs. He would soon learn that many could speak
the Indian tongue, some of the younger men and girls being excellent
interpreters; while he would notice that wampum-making, or “seewant,”
for money, made by drilling and filing shells, was a regular and
legitimate industry. Possibly the young churchman may have stayed over a
Sunday, and in the large stone edifice, capable of seating over six
hundred persons, heard, if he did not understand, the learned Domine
Reinhart Erichzon preach. After the liturgy and psalms, read by the
clerk or fore-reader, the domine, in gown and bands, ascended the
wineglass-shaped pulpit to deliver his discourse.

In any event, whether Johnson’s stay was long or short in the Dorp, we
should see him making exit through the north gate, and either going
landward along the Mohawk, which is hardly possible, or, as is more
probable, loading his goods and outfit on one of the numerous canoes
always ready, and rowing or being rowed up the river. The twenty-four
miles or so of distance could be easily covered, despite the rifts and
possible portages, in a single day. Evening would find him, either in
camp on the new estate or hospitably lodged in some log-house of the
Dutch or German settlers. He was now in the heart of what the Dutch have
been wont to call the Woestina, or wilderness, but which was now too
much settled to be any longer so spoken of,—the term beginning to be
then, as it is now, restricted to a locality near Schenectady.

Warren’s Bush, or Warren’s Burg, was the name of the farm which the
young Irishman was to cultivate. Warrensburg was the written name, but
almost any new settlement was usually spoken of as “bush.” It lay on the
south side of the Mohawk, some distance east of the point where the
creek, fed by the western slopes of the Catskills, empties into the
river, and was named Schoharie, from the great mass of driftwood borne
down. No more fertile valleys than these, watered by the rain or melted
snows of the Catskills and Adirondacks, exist. Besides the river-flats
that were kept perennially fertile by nearly annual overflows and a top
dressing of rich silt, the old maize-lands of the Mohawk were vast in
extent, and all ready for the plough. The region west of Albany was then
spoken of by the colonists as “the Mohawk country,” from the chief tribe
of the Iroquois who inhabited it. Let us glance at the human environment
of the new settler.

Besides a few small houses of white men, standing singly along the
river, there were villages and fortified large towns of the Mohawks,
called, in the common English term of the period, “castles.” The
scattered lodges of the Indians were found near most of the settlements,
such as Schenectady, Caughnawaga, Stone Arabia, or Fort Plain, and often
their cabins were found inside the white men’s fortifications, as in
Fort Hunter; but in the palisaded Indian towns, hundreds and even
thousands were gathered together. All the white settlements along the
Mohawk or Hudson were near the river, the uplands or clearings beyond
the flats not being considered of much value. On the Hudson, besides
Albany, were Half Moon and Saratoga, which latter stood, not over the
wonderful ravine from which gushes the healing water of the mineral
springs, but several miles to the eastward. Along the Mohawk were
Schenectady, Crane’s Village, Fort Hunter, Warrensburg, a hamlet,
Caughnawaga (or Fonda), Canajoharie, Palatine, German Flats, and
Burnet’s Field, now called Herkimer. Over in Cherry Valley were, later
on, Scottish settlers, and in Schoharie more Germans.

Besides Jellis Fonda at Caughnawaga (now Fonda), who was a great Indian
trader, and afterward major of militia, Johnson’s most congenial
neighbour was a fellow Irishman, John Butler. He had come out from the
old country as a lieutenant of infantry in the ill-fated expedition for
the reduction of Canada in 1711; when, through stormy weather and the
ignorance of the pilots, the greater part of the fleet under Sir
Hovenden Walker was destroyed in the St. Lawrence, and over a thousand
men drowned. As one of the purchasers, with Governor Cosby and others,
of a tract of sixty thousand acres of land, seven miles from the site,
later called Johnstown, in which stood Johnson Hall, Lieutenant Butler
cultivated and improved his portion. To each of his two sons, Walter and
John, he gave a large farm, and both he and his sons were very
influential among the Indians. The father served as lieutenant, holding
the same rank for seventy years; and the two sons were afterward
captains in the Indian corps, under Johnson, in the Lake George
campaign. To this family the new settler, Johnson, became warmly
attached; and the friendship remained unbroken until the coming of
death, which the Arabs call the Severer of Friendships.

This line of settlements formed the frontier or line of outposts of
civilization. On every side their frontagers were the Iroquois, or
Indians of Five Nations, while right among them were the Mohawks. Only
one English outpost faced Lake Ontario. This was the trading-station of
Oswego. Here in 1722, the daring governor, William Burnet, aiming at the
monopoly of the fur-trade, in defiance of the French, and in the face of
the Seneca Indians’ protest, unfurled the British flag for the first
time in the region of the Great Lakes. He built the timber lodge at his
own expense, and encouraged bold young men, mostly from Albany and the
valley settlements, to penetrate to Niagara and beyond. These commercial
travellers—prototypes of the smart, well-dressed, and brainy drummers
of to-day, and in no whit their inferiors in courage, address, and
fertility of resource—went among the western Indians. They learned
their language, and so opened the new routes of trade that within a
twelvemonth from the unfurling of the British flag at Oswego there were
seen at Albany the far-off lake tribes and even the Sioux of Dakota.
Trade received such a tremendous stimulus that in 1727 Governor Burnet
erected a regular fort at Oswego, where, in 1757, a French traveller
found sixty or seventy cabins in which fur-traders lived. A promising
settlement, begun by the Palatine Germans at Herkimer, was called
Burnet’s Field, or, on the later powder-horn maps, Fort Harkiman.

The fur-trade in our day calls for the slaughter annually of two hundred
million land quadrupeds; drives men to ravage land and ocean, and even
to rob the water animals of their skins; sends forty million peltries
annually to London alone, and is still one of the great commercial
activities of the world. It was relatively much greater in Johnson’s
day; and to gain a master’s hand in it was already his ambition. It was
the year 1738, the date of the birth of George III. of England, whom
later he was to serve as his sovereign. Arriving in the nick of time,
Johnson began at once the triple activities of settling his uncle’s
acres with farmers, of opening a country store, and of clearing new land
for himself. This latter was rapidly accomplished, Indian fashion, by
girdling the trunks one year, thus quickly turning them into leafless
timber, and planting either corn or potatoes the next season, in the now
sunlighted and warm ground. Or the standing timber was cut down and by
fire converted into potash, two tons to the acre, which was easily
leached out, and was quickly salable in Europe.

Corn or maize was the crop which above all others enabled the makers of
America to hold their own and live; and corn was the grain most
plentifully raised in the Mohawk Valley, though wheat was an early and
steady crop. Corn meal is still sold in England as “Oswego flour,”—a
name possibly invented by Johnson, who became a large exporter of grain
and meal.

To be landlord’s agent, pioneer settler, farmer, and storekeeper all in
one, Johnson needed assistance in various ways and resolved to have it.
He had from the first come to stay for life and grow up with the
country. He was probably in America less than a year before he took as
his companion, Catharine, the daughter of a German Palatine settler
named Weissenburg, or Wisenberg.[3] Kate was the only wife Johnson ever
had, and the only woman with whom he lived in wedlock. She is described
as a sweet-tempered maiden, robust in health, fairly dowered with mental
abilities, and with a good influence over her husband. No record of the
marriage ceremony has yet been found; but the couple, if not joined in
wedlock by some one of the Dutch or German clergymen of the Valley, as
is most likely, had their wedding before the Rev. Thomas Barclay, an
English Episcopal missionary. Mr. Barclay laboured at Fort Hunter, and
in the little English church officiated for years, as well as at Albany
and Schenectady; but the records of Fort Hunter have not survived the
accidents of time. When in 1862 the dust of this maker of America was
disturbed, and his bones sealed up in granite for more honourable
burial, a plain gold ring was found, inscribed on the inside, “June.
1739. 16.” This date may have been that of his marriage with “Lady”
Johnson, his own lawful wife, who probably needed no title to adorn the
beautiful character which tradition bestows upon her. Johnson, when a
baronet with laurelled brow, and a fame established on two continents;
the head of a family in which were two baronetcies, father and son,—an
honour unparalleled in American colonial history,—made a will,
preserved in Albany, in which he desired the remains of his “beloved
wife Catharine” interred beside him. Of Molly Brant, his later mistress,
he spoke and wrote as his housekeeper; of the Palatine German lawfully
wedded to him, as his beloved wife.

Doubtless, also, for the first years of married life, through her
exemption from family cares, though these weighed lightly in early
colonial days, in the absence of the artificial life of the cities, she
was enabled to attend to the store, while her husband worked in the
field, rode with grist to the mill, or traded with the Indians in their
villages. Their first child, John, was not born until they had crossed
the Mohawk River, and occupied Mount Johnson, in 1742.

We can easily sum up the inventory of a country store on the frontier
over one hundred and fifty years ago, whose chief customers were
farmers, trappers, _bos-lopers_ or wood-runners, hunters, and Indians.
On the shelves would be arranged the thick, warm, woollen cloth called
“duffel,” which made “as warm a coat as man can sell,” and the coarse
shoddy-like stuff named “strouds;” in the bins, powder, shot, bullets,
lead, gun-flints, steel traps, powder-horns, rum, brandy, beads,
mirrors, and trinkets for the Indians, fish-hooks and lines, rackets or
snow-shoes, groceries, hardware, some of the commonest drugs, and
building articles.

In trading, a coin was rare. The money used was seewant, or wampum, but
most of the business done was by barter; peltries, corn, venison,
ginseng, roots, herbs, brooms, etc., being the red man’s stock in trade.
The white settlers paid for their groceries and necessities of
civilization in seewant, or wampum, potash, and cereals. One of the
earliest in the collection of Johnson’s papers at Albany is a letter to
“Dear Billy” from Captain Warren at Boston, suggesting a shipment in the
spring, from the farm at Warrensburg, of grain and other produce to
Boston by way of Albany.

Being of robust health, with a strong frame and commanding figure,
jovial in disposition and easy in manners, Johnson was not only able to
show habitual industry, but in the field-sports and athletic games to
take part and make himself popular alike with the muscular young Dutch
and Germans and with the more lithe red men. The famous castle or
palisaded village of the Mohawks on the hill-slopes back of Auriesville,
now visible to all passengers by railway, and marked by the shrine of
Our Lady of Martyrs, was but a short distance to the westward. Here
Johnson soon became known as a friend as well as an honest trader. His
simple and masterly plan was, never to lie, cheat, or deceive, and never
to grant what he had once refused. To the red men much of a white man’s
thinking was a mystery; but truth was always simple, and as heartily
appreciated as it was easily understood.

As early as May 10, 1739, we find this man of restless activity planning
to locate a branch trading-house on the Susquehanna, two hundred miles
to the south. Already he had seen the advantages and prospect of speedy
wealth in the fur-trade, a privilege won years before by his Schenectady
neighbours. He now entered diligently into it, employing a number of
runners or bos-lopers, who scoured the woods and valleys populated with
Indians, in his interest, diverting the trade from Albany to his own
post. This was the beginning of jealous quarrels between him and the
Albanians. That his eye was keenly open to every new advantage or
possibility of progress, was seen in his buying as early as 1739, after
one year’s residence in the valley, a lot of land across the Mohawk, on
which ran a stream of water, the Chucktununda Creek, with abundance of
potential mill-power. To ride horseback with bags fifteen miles to
Caughnawaga every time meal was needed, was too much loss of time and
energy. The German women had long carried bags of wheat and maize from
Schoharie to Schenectady, traversing the distance on foot, bearing corn
in coming and grist in returning, on their backs. There was a mill at
Caughnawaga, and one owned by the Dutch Church at Schenectady, both
sufficiently distant. Johnson saw at once in a mill ease and revenue.
The Indian name of the stream, Chucktununda, is said to mean “stone
roofs or houses,” and was applied to other watercourses with banks of
overhanging rocks which formed shelter during rain. This coveted spot
became later the famous “Mount” Johnson, on which the stone
fortress-mansion still stands, at Akin, three miles west of Amsterdam
and visible to all railway travellers as they fly between the great Lake
City and New York.

The appearance of the Mohawk Valley, though still unchanged in its great
cosmic features of sky, mountain, and main watercourses, was vastly
different a century and a half ago. On its surface were many minor
features quite different from those which to-day greet the eye of
traveller, denizen, or palace-car inmate. Then the primeval forest, rich
in game, covered hill and dale, except along the river-flats, where were
great expanses of meadow in the wide level of the valley. Here were
maize-fields surrounding the Indian villages for miles.

Owing, however, to the largeness of forest area, the streams were of
greater proportions and much more numerous than at present. Fish were
vastly abundant, and so tame as to be easily caught, even with the hand
of Indian or white skilled in wood and water craft. Animal life was rich
and varied to a degree not now easily imaginable or even credible, did
not the records of geology, of contemporary chronicles, and the voices
of tradition all agree on this point. Then the “wild cow” or bison,
though rapidly diminishing, owing to the introduction of fire-arms, was
still a source of fur and food. Besides the elk, deer were plentiful on
the hills, often seen drinking at night and early in the morning at the
river’s brink, and occasionally were killed inside of the new
settlements. A splendid specimen of elk horns from a buck shot by
Johnson on his own grounds, was presented by him to Chief Justice Thomas
Jones, who wrote a loyalist history of New York during the Revolutionary
War, and long adorned the hall of Fort Neck mansion on Long Island.
Smaller fur-bearing animals were beyond the power of arithmetic. Wolves
were uncomfortably numerous, active, and noisy. To their ceaseless
nocturnal music there were slight pauses of silence, except when some
gory battle-field or scalping-party’s raid or unusual spoil of hunters
became the storm-centre, and gathered them together from a radius of
many miles. Most notable of all the animals, in physical geography, in
commerce, and for clothing, was the beaver. This amphibious creature of
architectural instincts was the great modifier of the earth’s surface,
damming up tens of thousands of the hill streams which fed the great
rivers, and thus causing a vast surface of the land, otherwise dry, to
be covered with water, while it greatly changed the appearance of the
landscape. There are to-day thousands of grassy and mossy dells which
even the inexperienced eye sees were once the homes of the beavers,
while thousands of others have long since, under the open sun, become
fertile meadows. The beaver, by yielding the most valuable of the furs,
furnished also the standard of value in trade. The beaver as seen on the
seal of the city of York, like the prehistoric _pecus_, or cattle, which
made _pecu_niary value, or the salt of the ancient _sal_ary or rice in
old Japan, was quoted oftener than coin.

The Indian trails of New York were first obliterated by wagon-roads or
metaled turnpikes, and then covered by iron rails and wooden ties. The
flanged iron wheels have taken the place of the moccasin, as loco-motor
and freight-carrier; but in Johnson’s time the valleys, passes, and
portages or “carries” were all definitely marked, and generally easily
visible, on account of the long tramping of inturned feet. There are
places to-day on the flinty rock polished by long attrition of
deer-leather soles; and wherever the natural features of the landscape
point to the probable saving of linear space, there skilled search
usually reveals the old trail. One of the first proofs of the genius of
Johnson and the entrance in his mind of continental ideas was his
thorough study of the natural highways, trails, and watercourses of the
Iroquois empire, and the times and methods of their punctual migrations.
He soon found that while late autumn, winter, and spring was their
season for trapping and shooting their game, June, July, and August
formed the period when the peltries were brought in for sale. In early
autumn they went fishing, or their travelling-parties were on peaceful
errands, such as attending those council-fires which filled all the
atmosphere with blue haze. As a rule, the Indians avoided the mountains,
and dwelt in the valleys and well-watered regions, where fish and game
for food, osiers and wood fibres for their baskets, clay for their rude
pottery abounded, and where pebbles of every degree of hardness were at
hand, to be split, clipped, drilled, grooved, or polished for their
implements of war, ceremony, and religion. In savage life, vast areas of
the earth’s surface are necessary for his hunting and nomad habits.
Agriculture and civilization, which mean the tilling and dressing of the
earth, enable a tribe to make a few acres of fertile soil suffice, where
one lone hunter could scarcely exist. The constant trenching upon the
land of the wild hunter and fisherman, by the farmer and manufacturer,
who utilize the forces of Nature, and the resistance of the savage to
this process, make the story of the “Indian question.”

Apart from the pretext of religion, equally common to all, the main
object of French, Dutch, and English traders was fur, as that of the New
England coast men was fish. The tremendous demand of Europe and China
kept the prices of peltries high, and it was in this line of commercial
effort that fortunes were most quickly made, most of the early profits
being reckoned at twenty times the amount of outlay. Until 1630 a strict
monopoly of two trading-companies shut out all interlopers from the
Indian country.

In 1639, at the foundation of Rensselaerwyck, trade was nominally thrown
open to all. What was formerly done covertly by interlopers and servants
of the company, became the privileges of every burgher. Though still
rigidly denied to outsiders, traders’ shops soon sprung up along the
muddy streets of the colony, and an immense business was done over the
greasy counters. The gallon kegs of brandy, called ankers; a puncheon of
beer; a pile of shaggy woollen stuffs, then called duffles, and now
represented most nearly by Ulster or overcoat cloth; a still coarser
fabric called strouds, for breech clouts and squaws’ clothes, with axes
and beads, formed the staple of the cheaper order of shopkeepers. In the
better class of dealers in “Indian haberdashery,” and in peltries,
potash, and ginseng, the storehouses would have an immense array of all
sorts of clothes, hats and shoes, guns, knives, axes, powder, lead,
glass beads, bar and hoop iron for arrow-heads, and files to make them,
red lead, molasses, sugar, oil, pottery, pans, kettles, hollow ware,
pipes, and knick-knacks of all sorts. It was not long before the desire
to forestall the markets entered the hearts of the Dutch as well as the
French; and soon, matching the _courier du bois_, or hardy rangers of
the Canadian forests, emerged the corresponding figure of the
bos-lopers, or commercial drummers. This prototype of the present natty
and wide-awake metropolitan, in finest clothes, hat, and gloves, with
most engaging manners and invincible tongue, was a hardy athlete in his
prime, able to move swiftly and to be ever alert. He was well versed in
the human nature of his customers. Skilled in woodcraft, he knew the
trails, the position of the Indian villages, the state of the tides,
currents, the news of war and peace, could read the weather signs, the
probabilities of the hair and skin crops, the fluctuations of the
market, and was usually ready to advance himself by fair advantage, or
otherwise, over his white employer or Indian producer. Rarely was he an
outlaw, though usually impatient of restraint, and when in the towns,
apt to patronize too liberally the liquor-seller.

In this way the market was forestalled, and the choicest skins secured
by the Albany men, who knew how to select and employ the best drummers.
So fascinating and profitable was this life in the woods, that
agriculture was at first neglected, and breadstuffs were imported. The
evil of the abandonment of industry, however, never reached the
proportions notorious in Canada, where it sometimes happened that ten
per cent of the whole population would disappear in the woods, and the
crops be neglected. When, too, Schenectady, Esopus, and the Palatine
settlements in the Mohawk Valley were fully established, the farmers
multiplied, the acreage increased, and grain was no longer imported. It
was, from the first, the hope and desire of the Schenectady settlers to
break the Albany monopoly, and obtain a share of the lucrative trade.
This was bitterly opposed for half a century, and many were the
inquisitorial visits of the Albany sheriffs to Schenectady and the
Valley settlements, to seize contraband goods; but usually, on account
of the steady resistance of both magistrates and citizens, they who came
for wool went home shorn. The foolish Governor Andros went so far as to
lay upon the little village an embargo,—one of the silly precedents of
the “Boston Port Bill,”—by a most extraordinary proclamation forbidding
any wagons and carts to ply between the city of Albany and the Dorp of
Schenectady, except upon extraordinary occasions; and only with the
consent of the Albany magistrates could passengers or goods be carried
to the defiant little Dutch town. All such official nonsense ultimately
proved vain, and its silliness became patent even to the Albany
monopolists; and Schenectady won the victory of free trade with the

This point of time was shortly after the coming of Johnson, who thus
arrived at a lucky moment; and at once entering to reap where others had
sown, he became a man of the new era. He found the situation free for
his enterprise, which soon became apparently boundless. He cultivated
the friendship not only of the Indians, but of the white wood-runners,
trappers, and frontiersmen generally; and by his easy manners,
generosity, and strict integrity, bound both the red and the white men
to himself. He was a “hail-fellow-well-met” to this intelligent class of
men, and all through his wonderful career found in them a tremendous and
unfailing resource of power. Johnson laid the foundations of permanent
success, deep and broad, by the simple virtues of truth and honesty. He
disdained the meanness of the petty trader. His word was kept, whether
promise or threat. He refused to gain a temporary advantage by a
sacrifice of principle, and soon the poorest and humblest learned to
trust him. His word, even as a young man, soon became bond and law. The
Indians, who were never able to fathom diplomacy, could understand
simple truth. Two of the most significant gestures in the sign language
of the Indians are, when the index finger is laid upon the mouth and
moved straight forward, as the symbol of verity; and the same initial
gesture expresses with sinuosities, as of a writhing serpent, symbolical
of double dealing, prevarication or falsehood. The tongue of the
truth-speaker was thus shown to be as straight as an arrow, while that
of the liar was like a worm, or the crooked slime-line of a serpent. In
this simple, effective way Johnson’s business enlarged like his land
domains from year to year, while on knowledge of the Indians and their
language, and of the physical features of the Mohawks’ empire, he soon
became an authority. As early as 1743 he succeeded in opening a direct
avenue of trade with Oswego, doing a good business not only in furs, but
in supplying with provisions and other necessaries both the white
trappers and petty traders who made rendezvous at the fort. He was now
well known in Albany and New York, and soon opened correspondence with
the wealthy house of Sir William Baker & Co., of London, as well as with
firms in Atlantic seaports and the West Indies.

He prepared for a wider sphere of influence by improving his land north
of the Mohawk River. He began the erection on it of a strong and roomy
stone house,—one of the very few edifices made of cut stone then in the
State, and probably the only one west of the Hudson River. This house is
still standing, and kept in excellent repair by its owner and occupant,
Mr. Ethan Akin. It is two and a half stories high; its dimensions are 64
by 34 feet; the walls, from foundation to garret, are two feet thick.
There is not to-day a flaw in them, nor has there ever been a crack. The
roof, now of slate and previously of shingles, was at first of lead,
which was used for bullets during the Revolutionary War. Part of the
house seems to have been sufficiently finished for occupancy by the
summer of 1742, for here, on the 5th of November, his son John was born.
Around the house he planted a circle of locust-trees, two or three of
which still remain. His grist-mill stood on Chucktununda Creek, which
flowed through his grounds; and near it was the miller’s house. This
branch of his business—flour manufacture—was so soon developed that
cooperage was stimulated, and shipments of Johnson’s Mohawk Valley flour
were made to the West Indies and to Nova Scotia. Grand as his stone
dwelling was, a very patroon’s mansion,—and it is probable that one of
Johnson’s purposes in rearing what was then so splendid a mansion was to
impress favourably the Indians,—he became none the less, but even more,
their familiar and friend. He joined in their sports, attended their
councils, entertained the chiefs at his board, feasted the warriors and
people in his fields, and on occasions put on Indian costume. In summer
this would mean plenty of dress and liberal painting, but in winter,
abundance of buckskin, a war-bonnet of vast proportions, and a duffel
blanket. Yet all this was done as a private individual and a merchant,
having an eye to the main chance. He as yet occupied no official
position. His domestic life in these early days at the Mohawk Valley
must have been very happy; and here were born, evidently in quick
succession and probably before the year 1745, by which time the stone
house was finished, his two daughters, Mary and Nancy. About sixty yards
north of the mansion was a hill on which a guard-house stood, with a
lookout ever on the watch. On account of this hill the place was often
spoken of as “Mount” Johnson. In time of danger a garrison of twenty or
thirty men occupied this point of wide view.

Despite his many cares, Johnson enjoyed reading and the study of
science. He ordered books and periodical literature regularly from
London. His scientific taste was especially strong in astronomy. To the
glorious canopy of stars, which on winter nights make the
mountain-walled valley a roofed palace of celestial wonders, Johnson’s
eyes were directed whenever fair weather made their splendours visible.
In autumn the brilliant tints of the sumach, dogwood, swamp-maple,
sassafras, red and white oak, and the various trees of the order of
_Sapindaceæ_ filled the hills and lowlands with a glory never seen in
Europe. His botanical tastes could be enjoyably cultivated, for in
orchids, ferns, flowering plants, and wonders of the vegetable world,
few parts of North America are richer than the Mohawk Valley.


[2] The young and charming Lord James Radcliffe, Earl of Derwentwater,
the idol of the Jacobites, was beheaded 24th of February, 1716; that is,
on the very day, it is claimed by Col. T. Bailey Myers, that Sir William
Johnson was born, and the wild fervour of a Jacobite loyalty was still
alive when Sir John was a boy.—DE PEYSTER’S _Life of Gen. John
Johnson_, Introd., p. xvi.

[3] Mr. E. F. De Lancey, the well-known writer on American history and
genealogy, knew personally the grandchildren of Sir William Johnson, and
has embodied valuable information about him and them in his notes to
Jones’s “History of New York during the Revolutionary War.” In his
letter to the writer, dated March 28, 1891, he kindly sent a transcript
from a letter in Mrs. Bowes’s own handwriting—“Information my father
gave me when with him. Catharine Wisenberg, a native of Germany, married
to Sir W. Johnson, Bart. in the U. States of America, died in 1759.”
Mrs. Bowes was a daughter of Sir John Johnson, who was a son of Sir
William Johnson. It is probable that the spelling Wisenberg is only the
phonetic form of Weissenburg. The local gossip and groundless
traditions, like those set down by J. R. Simms, are in all probability

                              CHAPTER III.

THE military nerves of the continent of North America lie in the
water-ways bounding, traversing, or issuing from the State of New York.
Its heart is the region between the Hudson and the Niagara. In these
days of steam-traction, when transit is made at right angles to the
rivers, and thus directly across the great natural channels of
transportation, New York may be less the Empire State than in the days
of canoes and bateaux. Yet even now its strategic importance is at once
apparent. In the old days of conflict, first between the forces of Latin
and Teutonic civilization, and later between British king-craft and
American democracy, it was the ground chosen for struggle and decision.

Before the European set foot on the American continent, the leading body
of native savages had discovered the main features of this great natural
fortress and place of eminent domain. Inventors of the birch-bark canoe,
the red man saw that from this centre all waters of the inland ocean
made by the great lakes, the warm gulf, and the salt sea, could be
easily reached. With short land-portages, during which the canoe, which
served as shelter and roof at night and house and vehicle by day, could
be carried on the shoulders, the Indian could paddle his way to Dakota,
to Newfoundland, or to Hudson’s Bay on the north, or the Chesapeake and
the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico on the south. In his moccasins he
could travel as far. From New York State the pedestrian can go into
twenty States and into two thirds of the territory of the United States
without leaving the courses of valleys. No other State can so
communicate between the east and the west without overcoming one or more
mountain ridges. The T-shaped Hudson-Mohawk groove in the earth’s crust
unites the valleys east of Massachusetts. With such geographical
advantages, added to native abilities, the Iroquois were able to make
themselves the virtual masters of the continent of North America.

Here, accordingly, was built the Long House; that is, was organized the
federation of the Five Nations. Like the Pharaohs, Sultans, Mikados, and
European princes of the world which we call old, because of its long
written history, these forest sovereigns named their government after
their house. The common edifice of the Iroquois was a bark structure
fifty or more feet long, and from twelve to twenty feet wide, with doors
at either end. In each dwelling lived several families.

So also, in the Great Long House, stretching from the Hudson to the
Niagara, dwelt at first five families. The Mohawks occupied the room at
the eastern end of the house, in the throat of the Mohawk Valley, the
_schenectady_, or “place just outside the door,” being on the
“mountain-dividing” or Hudson River. More exactly, the place of “Ye
treaties of Schenectady” was at the mouth of Norman’s Kill, a little
south of Albany. Here was the place of many ancestral graves, where
multitudes of the dead lay, and where Hiawatha, their great civilizer,

Of all the tribes the Mohawks were, or at least in England and the
colonies were believed to be, the fiercest warriors. It was after them
that the roughs in London in the early part of the eighteenth century
were named, and the term was long used as a synonym with ferocious men.
The tea-destroyers in Boston Harbor in 1774 also took this name. Next
westward were the Oneidas, inhabiting the region from Little Falls to
Oneida Lake. The Onondagas at the centre of the Long House, in the
region between the Susquehanna and the eastern end of Lake Ontario, had
the fireplace or centre of the confederacy. The Cayugas lived between
the lake named after them and the Genesee Valley. The Senecas occupied
the country between Rochester and Niagara. The evidence left by the
chips on the floors of their workshops, show that their most ancient
habitations were on the river-flats and at the edges of streams. Later,
as game became scarcer, they occupied the hills and ledges farther back.
On these points of vantage their still later elaborate fortifications of
wood were built. As the rocks of New York make the Old Testament of
geology, so the river-strands and the quarries are the most ancient
chronicles of unwritten history, in times of war and peace.

How long the tribes of the Long House lived together under the forms of
a federated republic, experts are unable to tell. It is believed that
they were originally one large Dakota tribe, which became separated by
overgrowth and dissensions, and later united, not as a unity, but as a
confederation. The work of Dr. Cadwallader Colden, who in 1727 published
his “History of the Five Nations,” has been too much relied upon by
American and English writers. It was one of the very first works in
English on local history published in the province of New York. Utterly
ignoring the excellent writing of the Dutch scholars, Domine
Megapolensis, De Vries, and the lawyer, Van der Donck, who wrote as men
familiar with their subject at first hand; ignoring also the personal
work of Arendt Van Curler,—Colden compiled most of his historic matter
from French authors.

According to the tradition of the Algonkin Indians of Canada, which
Colden gives at length, the Iroquois were at first mainly occupied in
agriculture, and the Algonkins in hunting. The various wars had
developed in the Iroquois the spirit of war and great powers of
resistance, so that they held their own against their enemies. Another
of the many bloody campaigns was to open on the shores of the lake named
after Champlain, when Europeans appeared on the scene, and trustworthy
history begins. Champlain, it seems, did not desire to join in the
Indian feuds, but was compelled to do so in order to retain the
friendship of the Hurons. This first use of fire-arms in Indian warfare
meant nothing less than revolution in politics, in methods of war, in
the influence of chiefs, and in other elements of Indian civilization.
What gunpowder began, alcohol completed.

This much seems certain, that at the opening of the seventeenth century
the whole continent was a dark and bloody ground, in which war was the
rule and peace the exception; in which man hunted man as the beasts and
fishes destroy and devour one another. The Iroquois, speaking
substantially one language, were as an island in a great Algonkin ocean.
Unlike mere fishermen and hunters they were agriculturists, and many
hundred square miles were planted with their maize, squashes, pumpkins,
beans, tobacco, and other vegetables, edible or useful. They were able
to store up corn for long campaigns and to brave a season of famine. The
streams furnished them with fish, and they hunted the deer, elk, bison,
and smaller animals for flesh or furs; but their noblest game was man.
To kill, to scalp, to save alive for torture, to burn his villages and
houses, to wreak vengeance on his enemies, was rapture to the savage.

Before they knew gunpowder, the Iroquois, equipped with flint weapons
and clothed in bark armour, often fought in the open field and with
comparative personal exposure. Their battles were by masses of men who
were led by chiefs, and their tactics and strategy resembled those of
white men before the introduction of fire-arms. One famous field in the
open ground near Schenectady was long pointed out in Indian tradition as
the place where the great battle between the Iroquois and the Algonkins
had been fought before the coming of the whites. For the defence of
their villages they built palisades with galleries for the defenders to
stand on, and with appliances at hand to put out fires, or to repel
assaults and drive off besiegers. Theirs was the age of stone and wood;
but their civilization was based on agriculture, which made them
superior to that of their neighbours, whom they had compelled to be
tributary vassals.

The apparition of the white man and the flash of Champlain’s arquebus,
vomiting fire and dealing death by invisible balls, changed all Indian
warfare and civilization. Gunpowder wrought as profound a revolution in
the forests of America as in Europe. Bark or hide shields and armour
were discarded; bows and arrows were soon left to children; the line and
order of battle changed; fighting in masses ceased; the personal
influence of the chiefs decreased, and each warrior became his own
general. Individual valour and physical strength and bravery in battle
counted for much less, and the dwarf was now equal to the giant.

An equally great revolution in industry took place when the stone age
was suddenly brought to a close and the age of metals ushered in. The
iron pot and kettle, the steel knife, hoe, hatchet, and the various
appliances of daily life made more effective and durable, almost at once
destroyed the manufacture of stone and bone utensils. The old men lost
their occupation, and the young men ceased to be pupils. This loss of
skill and power was tremendous and far-reaching in its consequences; and
its very suddenness transformed independent savages into dependents upon
the white man. In time of famine or loss of trade, or interruption of
their relations with the traders caused by political complications, the
sufferings of the Indians were pitiable.

Champlain’s shot dictated the reconstruction of Indian warfare; but the
Iroquois took to heart so promptly the lesson, that the Algonkins north
of the St. Lawrence were able to profit little by their temporary
victory. Full of hate to the French for interfering to their
disadvantage, the Mohawks at once made friends with the Dutch.

Both Hudson and Champlain had visited Mount Desert Island, and thence
separating had penetrated the continent by the great water-ways, both
reaching the heart of New York within a few miles of each other. While
the French founded Quebec, and settled at Montreal, the Dutch made a
trading settlement on the Hudson at Norman’s Kill, Tawasentha. This
“place of many graves” and immemorial tradition was the seat of their
great civilizer and teacher, Hiawatha, who had introduced one phase of
progress. It was now destined to be the gateway to a new era of change
and development. As in Japan, at the other side of the globe, at nearly
the same time white men, gunpowder, and Christianity had come all

It was not out of disinterested benevolence that the confederate savages
sought the friendship of the Hollanders. They came to buy powder and
ball, to arm themselves with equal weapons of vengeance, and to protect
themselves against the French.

But if Champlain was a mighty figure in the imagination of the red man
of the Mohawk Valley, there was coming a greater than he. This new man
was to impress more deeply the imagination of all the Iroquois, and his
name was to live in their language as long as their speech was heard on
the earth. Champlain was a bringer of war; “Corlaer” was an apostle of

Arendt Van Curler is a perfectly clear figure in the Indian tradition,
and in the history and documentary archives of the Empire State. Having
no descendants to embalm his name in art or literature, he has not had
his monument. Yet he deserves to have his name enrolled high among the
makers of America. The ignorance, errors—and there is a long list of
them—of writers on American and local history concerning Arendt Van
Curler, have been gross and inexcusable. It were surely worth while to
know the original of that “Corlaer” after whom the Indians named, first
the governors of New York, and later the governors of English Canada,
and finally Queen Victoria, the Empress of India. To the Iroquois mind,
Corlaer was the representative of Teutonic civilization. Other governors
of colonies and prominent figures among the pale-faces, they called by
names coined by themselves, just as they named their own warriors from
trivial incidents or temporary associations. Even the King of Great
Britain was only their unnamed “Father;” but as our ablest American
historian, Francis Parkman, has said: “His [Van Curler’s] importance in
the eyes of the Iroquois, and their attachment to him are shown by the
fact that they always used his name (in the form of Corlaer) as the
official designation of the governor of New York, just as they called
the governors of Canada, Onontio, and those of Pennsylvania, Onas. I
know of no other instance in which Iroquois used the name of an
individual to designate the holder of an office. Onontio means ‘a great
mountain;’ Onas means ‘a quill or pen;’ Kinshon, the governor of
Massachusetts, ‘a fish.’”[4]

Rev. I. A. Cuoq, in his “Lexique de la Langue Iroquoise,” also remarks
that the title Kora, the present form of [Van] Curler, given even yet to
the kings and queens of England and to the English governors of Canada,
is a purely Iroquois creation; while that of Onontio, used of the French
king and governors, was given for the first time to Montmagny, the
successor of Champlain. Quite differently from their method in the case
of Van Curler, they translated, with the aid of the French missionaries,
Montmagny’s name, rendering it freely by Onontio, which means, strictly
speaking, “the beautiful mountain,” rather than “the great mountain.”
The term Onontio was used until the end of the French dominion in
America, whereas Kora [or Corlaer] is still in vogue; Queen Victoria
being to the Canadian Indians Kora-Kowa, or the great Van Curler.

As first-cousin of Kilian Van Rensselaer, Arendt Van Curler, a native of
the country near Amsterdam, but probably of Huguenot descent, reached
America in 1630, and became superintendent and justice of the colony at
Rensselaerwyck. From the very first he dealt with the Indians in all
honour, truth, and justice. He was a man of sterling integrity, a Dutch
patriot, and a Christian of the Reformed faith, but also a man of
continental ideas, a lover of all good men, and a Catholic in the true
sense of the term. He rescued from death and torture the Christian
prisoners in Mohawk villages; and his first visit into, or “discovery”
of the Valley as far as Fonda in September, 1642, was to ransom Father
Jogues. His description of “the most beautiful land on the Mohawk River
that eye ever saw,” and the journal of his journey, probably sent with
his letter of June 16, 1643, to the Patroon, form the first written
description of the Valley. He mastered the vernacular of the savages,
visited them at their council-fires, heard their complaints, dealt
honestly with them, and compelled others to do the same. The first
covenant of friendship, made in 1617, between the Dutch and the
Iroquois, and its various later renewals, he developed into a policy of
lasting peace and amity. The scattered links of friendship between the
Dutch and the confederacy of Indians he forged into an irrefragable
chain, which, until the English-speaking white men went to war in 1775,
was never broken. In 1663 he saved the army of Courcelles from
starvation and probably destruction. Winning alike the respect of the
French in Canada, and of their enemies, the Mohawks, he was invited to
visit the governor, Tracy, in Quebec. On his journey thither in 1667, he
was drowned in Lake Champlain near Rock Regis, the boundary-mark between
the Iroquois and Algonkin Indians. This lake, like the Mohawk River, and
the town of Schenectady which he founded, the Indians and Canadians
called Corlaer.

Rarely, if ever, was a council held in Albany or at Johnson’s house or
at the Onondaga fireplace, that Corlaer’s name was not mentioned, and
their “covenant chain” with him referred to under the varied figures of

Van Curler’s policy was continued and expanded by Peter Schuyler, a son
of Van Curler’s warm personal friend, Philip Schuyler. As the Iroquois
in speaking never closed the lips, but used the orotund with abundance
of gutturals, they were unable to pronounce properly names in which
labial consonants occurred. They could not say Peter; so they called
their friend “Quider.” The policy of Johnson was simply a continuation
and expansion of that of these two Hollanders, Van Curler and Schuyler.
There was no name of any white man that Johnson heard oftener in the
mouths of the Indians than that of Corlaer; and yet, in the index of
seventy thousand references to the Johnson manuscripts in Albany there
is no reference to this founder of the Dutch policy of peace with the

In their political and social procedures, in public discourse, and in
the etiquette of councils, no denizens of European courts were more
truly bond-slaves to etiquette and custom than these forest senators. In
certain outward phases of life—especially noticed by the man of hats,
boots, and clean underclothing—the Indian seems to be a child of
freedom, untutored and unsophisticated. In reality he is a slave
compared to the enlightened and civilized man. He is by heredity,
training, and environment fettered almost beyond hope. His mind can move
out of predestined grooves only after long education, when a new God,
new conceptions, induced power of abstract reasoning, and an entirely
new mental outlook are given him. First of all, the savage needs a right
idea of the Maker of the universe and of the laws by which the creation
is governed; and then only does his mental freedom begin. So far from
being free from prescribed form, he is less at liberty than a Chinese or
Hindu. His adherence to ceremonial runs into bigotry. The calumet must
be smoked. The opening speech must be on approved models. The wampum
belts are as indispensable in a treaty as are seals and signatures in a
Berlin conference or a Paris treaty. To challenge tradition, to step out
of routine, to think for himself, and to act according to conviction, is
more dangerous and costly to him than to one who has lived under the
codes of civilization.

To gain his almost invincible influence over these red republicans of
the woods, Johnson, like his previous exemplars, had to let patience
have her perfect work. He had to stoop to them in order to lift them up.
He even learned to outdo them in ostentation of etiquette, in rigid
adherence to form, in close attention to long speeches without
interruption, in convincing eloquence, in prolixity when it was
necessary to subdue the red man’s brain and flesh by the power of the
tongue, and in shine and glitter of outward display. Like a shrewd
strategist, this typical Irishman knew when to exercise his native gift
of garrulity in talking against time, and when also to condense into
fiery sentences the message of the hour.

One chief reason, however, why the Iroquois preferred to talk with him
more than with the average colonial grandee, was because they were not
when before him at the mercy of interpreters. Despite the fact that time
was of little value to the savage, it was rather trying to an Indian
orator, after dilating for an hour or two in all the gorgeous eloquence
of figurative language, to the manifest acceptance of his own kinsmen at
least, to have an interpreter render the substance of his oration in a
few sentences. Unaccustomed to abstract reasoning, the Indian was
perforce obliged to draw the images of thought entirely from the
environment of his life on land and water. Hence his speech
superabounded with metaphors. He thoroughly enjoyed the discourse of one
of his pale-faced brothers whose flowery language, while insufferably
prolix to his fellow-whites, ran on in exuberant verbosity. In such a
case, as Johnson soon learned to know, the sons of the forest felt
complimented and flattered. Rarely was a speaker interrupted. Extreme
rigidity of decorum was the rule at their councils. On great and solemn
occasions the women were called as witnesses and listeners to hold in
their memory words spoken or promises given.

There were other resources of human intercourse besides words. The
wampum strings that reminded one of rosaries, or the belts made of
hundreds and thousands of black and white shells, served as telegrams,
letters missive, credentials, contracts, treaties, currency, and most of
the purposes in diplomacy and business. The principal chief of a tribe
had the custody of these archives of State. A definite value was placed
upon these drilled, polished, and strung disks or oval cylinders of
shell. The Dutch soon learned to make a better fabric than the Indian
original, and they taught the art to the other colonists. Weeden, in his
“Economic History of New England,” has shown how great an aid to
commerce this, the ancient money of nearly all nations, proved in the
early days when coined money was so scarce. The belts used as
newsletters, as tokens of peace or war, as records of the past, or as
confirmations of treaties, were often generous in width and length,
beautifully made, and fringed with coloured strings. Schenectady was a
famous place of wampum or seewant manufacture; and Hille Van Olinda, an
interpreter, received in 1692 two pounds eight shillings for two great
belts. Two others of like proportions cost three pounds twelve
shillings. A large quantity of this sort of currency was always carried
by the French to win over the Indians to their side. The same commercial
and diplomatic tactics were also followed by the English, and especially
by Johnson.

The Iroquois had also a rude system of heraldry. A traveller over the
great trails or highways, or along the shores of the great water-ways
most often traversed, would have seen many tokens of aboriginal art. The
annals of the Jesuit missionaries and of travellers show that besides
the hideously painted or carved manitou or idols found at certain
well-known places, the trees and rocks were decorated with the totem
signs. The wolf, the bear, the tortoise, were the living creatures most
frequently seen in effigy on tent, robes, or arms. Or they were set as
their seal and sign-manual on the title-deeds of lands bartered away,
which the white man required as proofs of sale and absolute alienation,
though often the red man intended only joint occupancy. In the Iroquois
Confederacy there were eight totem-clans, which formed an eight-fold
bond of union in the great commonwealth. Less important symbols were the
deer, serpent, beaver, stone pipe, etc. In their drawings on trees or
rocks there were certain canons of art well understood and easily read.
A canoe meant a journey by water; human figures without heads, so many
scalps; the same holding a chain, as being in alliance and friendship;
an axe, an emblem of war, etc. A rude fraternity, with secrets, signs,
and ceremonies,—the freemasonry of the forest,—was also known and was
powerful in its influence. In family life, inheritance was on the female
side; and on many subjects the advice of the women was sought and taken,
and as witness-auditors they were a necessity at solemn councils, as
well as made the repository of tradition.

Exactly what the religion of the Indians was it would be hard to say. To
arrange their fluctuating and hazy ideas into a system would be
impossible. Whatever the real mental value of their words “manitou” and
“wakan,” or other terms implying deity, or simply used to cover
ignorance or express mystery, it is evident that the blind worship of
force was the essence of their faith. Living much nearer to the animal
creation than the civilized man, they were prone to recognize in the
brute either a close kinship or an incarnation of divine power. Extremes
meet. The current if not the final philosophy of the scientific mind in
our century, and that of the savage, have many points in common. All
animated life was linked together, but the red man saw the presence of
the deity of his conception in every mysterious movement of animate or
inanimate things. Even the rattlesnake was the bearer of bane or
blessing according as it was treated. Alexander Henry, the traveller
from Philadelphia, relates that on meeting a snake four or five feet
long, which he would have killed, the Iroquois reverently called it
“grandfather,” blew their tobacco smoke in puffs toward it to please the
reptile, and prayed to it to influence Colonel Johnson “to take care of
their families during their absence, to show them charity, and to fill
their canoes with rum.” When, afterward, they were on the lake and a
storm arose, Henry came very near being made a Jonah to appease the
wrath of the rattlesnake-manitou, but fortunately the tempest passed and
it cleared off.

The Indians invented the birch or elm bark canoe, the racket or
snow-shoe, the moccasin, all of which the white frontiersmen were quick
to utilize when they saw their value. They also taught the settlers the
use of new kinds of food, and how to get it from the soil or the water.
To tread out eels from the mud, catch fish with the hand or with
fish-hooks of bone, and to till the ground, even in the forest, for
maize, squashes and pumpkins, were lessons learned from the red man.
Frontier and savage life had many points in common, and not a little
Indian blood entered into the veins of Americans. There were hundreds of
instances of women as well as men rescued from their supposed low estate
as captives who preferred to remain with the Indians in savage life.
Often white settlers were saved from death by starvation by friendly red
men or half-breeds; while half the plots of the savages failed because
of the warnings given by friendly squaws, or boys who were usually not

Great changes took place within the Iroquois Confederacy after the
advent of the white man. His fire-arms, liquor, fences, and ideas at
once began to modify Indian politics, hunting, social life, and
religion. The unity of interests was broken, and division and secession
set in, as steady currents, to weaken the forest republic. Large numbers
of the Iroquois emigrated westward to live and hunt in Ohio and beyond,
and joined the Ottawa confederacy. Others left in bands or groups, and
made their homes in Pennsylvania, Virginia, or the Southwest, to get
away, if possible, from the white man’s fences and fire-water. Others
followed their religious teachers into Canada, and made settlements
there. These losses were only in a measure made good by the addition to
the Long House of a whole tribe from the South, the Tuscaroras, whose
ancestral seats had been in the Carolinas.

North Carolina was one of the majority of the original thirteen States
first settled by a variety of colonists,—French, German, Swiss,
Scottish, and Irish, as well as English. At first red and white men
lived at peace; but soon the inevitable “question” came, and the Indians
imagined that they could show themselves superior to the pale-faces.
Making what white historians call a “conspiracy,” but striking what they
believed to be a blow for home and freedom, they rose, and in one night
massacred in or near Roanoke alone one hundred and thirty-seven of the
white settlers. Their murderous act at once drew out the vengeance of
Governor Craven of South Carolina, who sent Col. John Barnwell, an
Irishman, who marched with a regiment of six hundred whites and several
hundred Indian allies. Without provision trains, but subsisting as
Indians do in a wilderness unbroken by villages, farms, or clearings,
Barnwell struck the Tuscaroras in battle, and reduced their numbers by
the loss of three hundred warriors. Pursuing them to their fortified
castle, he laid siege and compelled surrender. By successive blows, this
“Tuscarora John,” by death or capture, destroyed one thousand fighting
men, and compelled the remainder of the tribe to leave the graves of
their fathers, and emigrate northward. Only a remnant reached New York.
The Tuscaroras joined the Iroquois Confederacy in 1713, and the
federated forest republic then took upon itself the style and title of
the Six Nations.

Nearly a century afterward, when the Iroquois Confederacy was a dream,
and the Southern Confederacy beginning to be woven of the same stuff,
the descendant of “Tuscarora John,” who had added a new tribe to the
Long House, gave at Montgomery, Alabama, the casting vote that made
Jefferson Davis President of a new one in the many forms of federation
on the North American continent. About the same time the great English
historian, Freeman, neglecting for the nonce the distinction between
history and prophecy, began his work on the “History of Federal
Government, from the Achaian League to the Disruption of the United
States of America,” only one volume of which was published, the events
of 1863–1865 compelling the completion of the work to be indefinitely

How far the various attempts of the red man to combine in federal union
for common strength or defence, and especially those in the stable
political edifice in New York, were potent in aiding the formation of
the American Commonwealth, is an interesting question worthy of careful
study. That it was not without direct influence upon the minds of those
constructive statesmen like Franklin, Hamilton, Madison, Monroe, who
came so numerously from States nearest the Long House, and most familiar
with Iroquois politics, cannot be denied. The men of the
English-speaking colonies which had been peopled from continental and
insular Europe, were inheritors of classic culture. They naturally read
the precedents furnished by Greece and Rome; but they were also
powerfully affected by the living realities of the federal republics of
Holland and Switzerland, as well as in the aristocratic republic of
Venice, while in the one nearest England many of them were educated. It
is not too much to affirm, however, that the power of this great example
at home, on the soil and under their eyes, was as great in moulding
opinion and consolidating thought in favour of a federal union of
States, as were the distant exemplars of the ancient world, or in modern
Europe. Though we give him no credit, and spurn the idea of political
indebtedness to the red man, with almost the same intolerant fierceness
that some of the latter-day New England Puritans deny obligations to the
Dutch Republic that sheltered and educated their fathers, yet our
government is in a measure copied from that of the forest republicans,
whose political edifice and conquests shaped the history and
civilization of this continent. In still retaining the sonorous names
given to our mountains, valleys, and rivers, and in transferring these
to our ships and men-of-war; in giving the effigy of the Indian a place
on our municipal coats of arms and seals of State, we are proving that
in our memory at least of the aboriginal dwellers on the soil they are
not wholly forgotten. These graphic symbols are, indeed, but shadows;
but beyond all shadow is substance.

While the white man’s gunpowder and bullets, war, diseases, fire-water,
and trade wrought profound changes for better or worse, usually the
latter, the Indians were not stolid or unreceptive to his religion. Both
the Roman and the Reformed teachers won many disciples in the Long
House. Almost as soon as the learned Domine Megapolensis arrived at Fort
Orange, he began to learn the language of the Mohawks. He was soon able
to preach to them and to teach their children. This was three years
before John Eliot began his work in Massachusetts. The pastors at
Schenectady did the same, translating portions of the Bible and of the
liturgy of the Netherlands Reformed Church, and of the Book of Common
Prayer. The missionary efforts of the Dutch Christians soon bore
definite and practical results. The Reformed Church records show large
numbers of Indians baptized or married or buried according to Christian
rites. There are also frequent instances of adult communicant membership
in the Mohawk, Hudson, Raritan, and Hackensack Valleys. Hundreds of
Indian children were trained in the same catechetical instruction, and
in the same classes with those of the whites. As a general rule, the
Hollanders and other peoples from the Continent lived in kindness and
peace with their red brethren. The occasional outbreaks of the savages
in massacre, fire, and blood were not by those of New York, but from
Canada. The Indians were set on like dogs by the French, who stimulated
the thirst for blood by political and religious hatreds; and the English
repaid in kind. Rarely was the peace broken between the people of New
Netherlands and New York except by causes operative in, and coming from

The first Roman Catholic who entered the bounds of the State of New York
was Isaac Jogues, who was captured by the Mohawks while ascending the
St. Lawrence River. One of the sweetest spirits and noblest characters
that ever glorified the flesh he dwelt in, Isaac Jogues was brought
captive into the Mohawk Valley to be reserved for fiendish torture.
Ransomed by Arendt Van Curler, and assisted to France by Domine
Megapolensis, these three men of the Holy Catholic Church became ever
after true friends. The surface discords of church names were lost in
the deeper harmonies of their one faith and love to a common Saviour.
Bressani was later assisted in like manner. Returning willingly, by way
of Quebec, after his fingers, once chewed to shapeless lumps between the
teeth of the Mohawks, had been kissed by nobles and ladies in the court
at Versailles, Jogues reached, four years later (1647), the scene of his
martyrdom and nameless burial. His severed head, mounted upon one of the
palisades of the Indian castle, was set with its face to Canada, whence
he came, in insult and defiance.

Nevertheless, the French Jesuit missionaries, with unquailing courage
and fervent faith, persevered; and Poncet, Le Moyne, Fremin, Bruyas, and
Pierron passed to and fro through Albany to continue the work in what
they had already named as the Mission of the Martyrs. In 1667 St. Mary’s
Chapel was established at the Indian village which stood on the site of
Spraker’s Basin. In 1669 St. Peter’s Chapel was built of logs on the
sand-flats at Caughnawaga near Fonda, by Boniface. Here in 1676 the
Iroquois maiden Tegawita—the White Lily of the Mohawks, the now
canonized saint—was baptized by James de Lamberville. From 1642 to 1684
was the golden age of early missions of the Roman form of the Christian
faith in New York. Then it was abruptly brought to a close, not because
of Indian animosity or Protestant opposition, but by the Roman Catholic
Governor Dongan in the interests of British trade.

Perhaps this interruption was not wholly dictated by greed, but was
strongly influenced by political interests. This fact must be noted.
When Catharine Ganneaktena, an Erie Indian woman adopted into the Oneida
tribe, was led to serious thought by Bruyas, to whom she taught the
language in 1668, and with her Christian husband was persecuted by the
pagans, the couple left for Montreal. Here she was baptized and
confirmed by Bishop Laval. Instructed by Raffeix, who was somewhat of a
statesman, Catharine invited several of her family in New York to
Canada, and early in 1670 they founded the Indian village of La Prairie,
where members of the Iroquois Confederacy might come to settle.
According to the code of laws established in this Christian community,
every one must renounce belief in dreams, polygamy, and drunkenness.
This settlement was destined to be a powerful influence, not only in the
Christianization of the Indians, but upon the politics of New York. In
1674, the wife of Kryn, “the great Mohawk,” who had conquered the
Mohegans, became a Christian, and her husband abandoned her. Happening
in his wanderings to visit the Christian village of La Prairie, Kryn was
impressed with the peace and order reigning in it, and after a time
became a Christian.

Returning to his home on the Mohawk, Kryn told what he had seen, and
persuaded forty of his fellows from Caughnawaga (now Fonda, New York) to
follow him. They reached La Prairie on Easter Sunday, 1676. From this
time forth Kryn was an active missionary, on one occasion talking over a
whole party of sixty Mohawks sent by Dongan on a raid against the
French, and converting four of them to Christianity. He also persuaded
the Oneidas and Onondagas to keep peace with the French, and in this was
aided by the remarkable influence of Garakonthie, the Christian
protector of “the black coats.” It was Kryn who led, and it was these
“praying Indians” from Canada who with the French were sent by Frontenac
to destroy Schenectady in 1690; and it was he who just before the attack
harangued them to the highest pitch of fury. His especial pretext for
revenge was the murder of sixty Canadian Indians by the Iroquois about
six months previously.

For many years La Prairie was the gathering-place of seceders from the
confederacy who had adopted the religion of their French teachers. In
1763 the village had three hundred fighting men; during the Revolution
the number increased, and at present the Indian reservation at
Caughnawaga, about twenty miles from Montreal, contains about thirteen
hundred Roman Catholic Indians. These facts explain why the Mohawks and
others of the confederacy had so many relatives fighting for the French,
and why the political situation in New York, until the fall of French
dominion, was so complex. As a rule, the Iroquois preferred the more
sensuous religion of the French, while eager also for the strouds,
duffels, guns, and blankets of the Dutch. Under Gallic and British
influences, their hearts were as often divided as their heads were
distracted. They were like tourists from Dover to Calais, when in the
choppy seas which seethe between the coasts of England, France, and

In 1684 Jean de Lamberville, the last Jesuit settler in New York among
the Iroquois, departed for Canada amid the lamentations of the Onondagas
who escorted him. In a few generations all traces of the work of the
French missionaries had vanished from the Mohawk Valley. In our days,
when under the farmer’s plough or labourer’s pickaxe, the earth casts
out her dead, the copper rings with the sign of the cross tell the
touching story of the Indian maiden’s faith. Under the eloquent pen of
John Gilmary Shea the thrilling story of labour and martyrdom glows. The
Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs at Auriesville shows that even modern
piety can find fresh stimulus in recalling the events which have made
the Mohawk Valley classic ground to devout pilgrims as well as to the
scholar and patriot.

For over a century—from 1664 until 1783—the diplomatic, military, and
eleemosynary operations of British agents and armies among the Iroquois
were actively carried on. These were prolonged and costly, and had much
to do with making the enormous public debt of England, still unpaid. The
effect was to affect powerfully the imagination of the British public.
It was not merely the fiction of Cooper which created the tendency of
the Englishman just landed at Castle Garden to look for painted and
feathered Indians on Broadway. The author of “Leatherstocking” did but
stimulate the imagination already fed by the narratives of returned
veterans. Thousands of soldiers, who had heard the war-whoop in forest
battles, told their stories at British hearthstones until well into this
century. They, with Cooper, are responsible for the idea that forests
grow in Philadelphia. The fear still possessing English children that
American visitors, even of unmixed European blood, may turn red or
black, is one prompted by tradition as well as by literary fiction.


[4] Letter to the writer, Feb. 7, 1890.

                              CHAPTER IV.
                     THE STRUGGLE FOR A CONTINENT.

FOR the possession of the North American continent two nations, France
and England, representing the two civilizations, Roman and Teutonic,
which dominate respectively Southern and Northern Europe, contended.
France, in America, embodied the Roman or more ancient type of
civilization, in which government and order were represented by the
priest and the soldier, while the people had little or nothing to do
with the government, except to obey. External authority was everything;
inward condition, little or nothing. The French system was not that of
real colonization, but of military possession; and the desired form of
social and political order was that based on monarchy and feudalism. In
the despotism of a Church subordinate to a ruler in Italy, and of a
State represented by a monarch, the individual was lost, and the
people’s function was simply to submit and pay taxes. They were taught
to look upon their privileges and enjoyments as the gifts of the
sovereign and of the Church. Authority emanated from the government,
which represented God, and represented Him infallibly.

The English colonists, whose leaders had been largely trained in the
Dutch Republic, represented the best elements of Teutonic civilization,
those of English blood being more English than the Englishmen left
behind, and more Teutonic than the Germans. Most of the principles and
institutions wrought out in the experience of the colonists, especially
those now seen to be most peculiarly American, were not of British, but
of continental origin. New England was settled mostly by immigrants who
had left England before 1640; and nearly all their leaders had come by
way of Holland, receiving their political and military education in the
United States of Holland, and under its red, white, and blue flag.

The strong hereditary instincts of Germanic freedom were best
represented in the seventeenth century by the Hollanders, who in the
little republic had long lived under democratic institutions. Nearly all
the leading men who settled New England had come to America after a
longer or shorter stay in Holland, where they imbibed the republican
ideas which they transported as good seed to America. The Pilgrims, who
were the first settlers of Massachusetts; many of the Puritans who came
later to Boston and Salem; the leaders of the Connecticut
Colony,—Hooker, Davenport, and many of their company,—had all been in
Holland. The military commanders—Miles Standish, John Smith, Samuel
Argall, Lyon Gardiner, Governor Dudley, and others—had been trained in
the Dutch armies. Thus it came to pass that while the makers of New
England were English in blood and language, their peculiar institutions
were not of England, but directly borrowed from the one republic of
Northern Europe.

The Middle States were all settled under the Netherlands influences.
Even in New York, where through the patroon system semi-feudal
institutions very much like those of aristocratic England had begun, the
innate love of liberty in the people ultimately broke through these as a
seed through its shell. The full growth was the typical American State
of New York, whose constitution possessed more of the features of the
National Constitution of 1787 than any other of the original thirteen
States. Feudalism and its ideas were thus for the most part left behind
or soon outgrown. The Church, even when united with the State, as was
the case in some of the colonies, was of democratic form. The system of
landholding and registry, the town-meeting, and the written and secret
ballot,—all Germanic ideas,—with many customs and practical political
ideas brought from Holland, made the people free, developed the
individual man, and gave the colonies a reserve of strength and
endurance impossible in Canada.

In their plan of strategy, the French idea was to limit the English
domain within and east of the Alleghany Mountains by a chain of forts
stretching from Quebec along the Great Lakes, down the Ohio and the
Mississippi to New Orleans. This was a scheme of magnificent distances,
involving enormous energy and expense, especially while the English held
the seacoast and bases of supplies. It was evident that for any hope of
success in their mighty territorial scheme the aborigines must be
secured as allies. In this work the priest could do more than the
soldier. Hence the zeal and energy of the spiritual orders were invoked,
and put under tribute to the grand design of Gallicizing America.

On the other hand, to overcome the plans of the French, there must be
that which could neutralize the wiles of the Jesuit as well as the
ability of the soldier. In every war between France and England,
Americans must bear a part; and until the ultimate question should have
been decided, the Indian held, on this continent, the balance of power.
Neutrality to red or white man was impossible. The spring, the
dominating idea of diplomacy and war in Europe was this doctrine of the
balance of power; but in America it was less a speculative notion than a
practical reality. The American Indian would be the decisive element
until one or other of the two nations and civilizations became

A fresh disturbance of this doctrinal stability in European politics
occurring near the middle of the eighteenth century, at once caused the
scales to oscillate in America, gave the French the first advantage, and
compelled William Johnson to follow up Van Curler’s work, and to be the
most active agent and influence among the Mohawks which had been felt
since the death of “Brother Corlaer.” This series of episodes is called
in Europe “The War of the Austrian Succession.” It was begun by
Frederick the Great of Prussia, against Maria Theresa of Austria. In
America it is known in history as the “Old French War.”

The “Old” French War (not that of 1753) was declared by Louis XV., March
15, 1744. The news was known all along the Canada borders by the end of
April. The tidings travelled more slowly in the English language; and it
was the middle of May, after the French had attacked the English
garrison at Canso and compelled it to surrender, before the startling
facts aroused the colonies. Already the Indian hatchets had been
sharpened, and the plan of raid and slaughter well made, when the
governor of New York, relying on the Indians as the great breakwater
against the waves of Canadian invasion, called a council of the chiefs
of the confederated Six Nations at Albany, which met June 18, 1744.

The settlers soon found that, in this as in previous wars, the French
and Canadian Indians were the more aggressive party, while the military
authorities of New York relied on a defensive policy. The governor,
George Clinton,—not the ancestor of the Clintons in the United States,
but the sixth son of the Earl of Lincoln,—had arrived in September,
1743. He was an old sea-dog, an ex-admiral, who knew as much about civil
government as one of his powder-monkeys on shipboard. It seemed to be
the policy of the British Government to send over decayed functionaries
and politicians who were favourites at court, but in every way unfitted
for the great problems of state in the complex community whose borders
were on Canada, where French power was intrenched. Too many of these
nominees of the Crown considered it to be their first duty to build up
their private fortune. Nevertheless, it was Clinton—who had probably
been influenced by his fellow-sailor, Captain Warren—who summoned
William Johnson, the trader, into public life.

Despite the superiority of the British fleet, the French moved more
quickly, and were first in America with reinforcements. The open
water-way from Canada into the heart of New York was the military nerve
of the continent. It made the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys the objective
point of the French invaders. The war, though not yet declared, was to
last five years, and, as we shall see, developed all the inherent
energies of Johnson, the young Irishman, who had already shown powers of
leadership. The military policy of the French was to keep the English
frontier in a state of ceaseless alarm, by small parties of stealthy
savages striking their blows unexpectedly all along the line from Oswego
to Hoosic. The story of the numberless petty raids is well told in
Drake’s “Particular History;” but in some cases the details are now
extant only in written accounts found in the Johnson papers, in church
records, in family Bibles, and on tombstones in Mohawk Valley and in New

Johnson soon found himself where the Robinson Crusoe of poetry wished to
be,—“in the midst of alarms;” but his temper rose into the heights of
unshakable calm as the dangers increased. Invited, with his wife and
three infant children, to come and live in Albany till the war was over,
he declined, and remained at Mount Johnson, losing no opportunity to
win, to keep, and to increase his influence over the Iroquois. His
abilities and power were, as we have seen, brought to the notice of the
new governor, indirectly through his uncle, but immediately through the
introduction of Chief Justice De Lancey, a brother of his uncle’s wife.
In the month of April, 1745, William Johnson received a commission as
one of the justices of the peace in the county of Albany, which then
extended from Coeymans to Herkimer.

At this point the strictly private life of Johnson ended, and his
political career began. The situation of Mount Johnson was within easy
reach of all important places in the province which were likely to be
the seat of war. An easy day’s ride on horseback would bring him to
Albany, whence, by either land or water, the country was opened
northward to Crown Point, or southward to New York. Thence, over a cross
route by way of Saratoga Springs, a strong man well mounted could, by
hard riding, reach Mount Johnson from the foot of Lake George in a day
and part of a night. Westward also, by river or land route, there was
easy access to all the tribes of the Long House and to all the Mohawk
Valley settlements.

Johnson’s uncle, Captain Warren, had by the capture of a privateer
distinguished himself at sea, and receiving promotion to the grade of
Commodore, was ordered to command the naval forces for the reduction of
Louisburg. By his energy and ability strict blockade was maintained
while the American citizen soldiery under Pepperell tightened the coils
of investment. When the “Vigilante,” a French frigate laden with
reinforcements in men and provisions, had been decoyed and captured, the
fortress was surrendered. Warren became an admiral; and Pepperell, a
merchant like Johnson, was made a baronet,—the former one day, the
latter one month, after receipt of the news in England.

Chronology was in this case a key to English jealousy of the colonists,
whose growing strength and republicanism monarchical Britain feared. The
joy of the Americans was excessive. It culminated in Boston, where
“Louisburg Square” still preserves the name. The gladness on this side
of the Atlantic equalled the astonishment, flavoured with jealousy,
which fell upon Europe. One would have thought that it would salt
wholesomely the inborn contempt which the regular officers of the king’s
troops felt toward provincial fighters, but it did not; and Braddock,
Loudon, Abercrombie, and their foolish imitators were yet numerously to
come. Indeed, this success of provincial Americans induced a jealousy
that was to rankle for a generation or more in British breasts, to the
serious disadvantage of both Great Britain and the colonies, as we shall
soon see.

Meanwhile, Indian affairs were in a critical condition, and the signs of
danger on the frontier were ominous. For reasons not here to be
analyzed, there were bad feelings between the Iroquois and the Albany
people. Rumours of the purpose of the English to destroy the Indians
were diligently kept in circulation by both lay and clerical Frenchmen.
Those who wore canonicals and those who wore regimentals were equally
industrious in fomenting dissatisfaction. The uneasiness of the Mohawks
was so great that they sent several chiefs to confer with their
brethren, the Caughnawaga Indians, in Canada. It was generally believed
that the French would attack Oswego. There is also evidence that
attempts were made to kidnap Johnson, against whom, as a relative of
Admiral Warren, as one of the captors of Louisburg, and as the man who
especially influenced the Iroquois in favour of the English, the French
had an especial grudge. It was known that from the fort at Crown Point
scalping parties issued at intervals; but mere rumours turned into
genuine history when Longmeadow, Massachusetts, was attacked and burned
by French Indians. On Nov. 17, 1745, the poorly fortified Dutch village
of Saratoga on the Hudson was attacked by an overwhelming force of over
six hundred French and Indians. After easy victory the place was given
over to the torch, and the sickening story of the massacre of
Schenectady was repeated.

In French civilization the priest and the soldier always go together.
They are the two necessary figures, whether in Corea, Africa, Cochin
China, or Canada. The soldier, Marin, was in this case led by the
priest, Picquet. Besides the massacre, in which thirty persons were
killed and scalped, sixty were made prisoners; and the whole fertile
farming country, blooming with the flower and fruit of industry, was
desolated for many miles. Many of the captives were negroes, and a
majority of the whole number died of disease in the prisons of Quebec.
One of the best accounts of this massacre—meagre in details—is
contained in a letter to Mr. Johnson from Mr. Sanders, of Albany. It was
nine days after this event that Johnson received the urgent letter
inviting him to move for safety to Albany.

A line of fire and blood, ashes and blackness, was now being drawn from
Springfield to Niagara. All men were under arms, and each was called to
watch every third night. No house was safe, except palisaded or built of
logs for defence. The forts were repaired and garrisoned. The bullet
moulds were kept hot, and extra flints, ramrods, and ammunition laid out
all ready, while weary sentinels strained ear and eye through each long,
dark night.

Out from the gateway of Crown Point, like centrifugal whirlwinds of
fire, swept bands of savages, who swooped down on the settlements.
Almost under the shadow of the palisades of Albany, Schenectady, and the
villages along the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys, men were shot and their
scalps taken to decorate Canadian wigwams. The little “God’s Acre” in
every settlement on the Mohawk began to fatten with victims who had died
out of their beds. Perhaps none of these ancient sleeping-places has
been reverently emptied in order to consign their memorials of once
active life to more enduring public honour in the modern cemeteries, but
the number of perforated skulls surprises the beholder. In these mute
witnesses to the disquiet of the past, he reads the story of ancestral
danger and suffering. The devout frontiersman made his way to church on
the Lord’s Day with his loaded gun on his shoulder, its flint well
picked and its pan well primed. He took his seat at the end of the pew,
only after sentinels had been posted and arms made ready for instant
use. Slight wonder was it that the effects of all-night vigils, and the
unusual posture of repose in a pew, rather than the length of the
Domine’s sermon, induced sleep even in meeting.

Most of the churches were loop-holed for defence, and even in the few
old houses occasionally found with projecting second floor, we see an
interesting survival of the old days, when from both church and dwelling
a line of gun-barrels might at any hour decorate the eaves with
gargoyles spouting fire and death. Away from the villages, the farmers,
building a block-house on some commanding hill, and if possible over a
well or spring, kept a sentinel on the roof while they laboured in the
fields. Horn in hand, the watcher surveyed the wide stretches of valley,
or scrutinized the edges of the clearing, to give warning of the
approach of skulking red or white murderers. Yet human nerves would
weary, and after constant strain for months with no near sign of danger,
vigilance would often relax at the very moment when the enemy opened
fire and raised his yell. Men would laugh to-day at warnings, while,
perhaps, the boys in play would set up mock sentinels at the gateways,
who on the morrow would be scalped or be bound and on their way to

The twofold plan of campaign decided on in England was the old one first
formulated by Leisler in 1690, looking to the invasion and subjugation
of Canada, attempted again in 1711, when a German regiment in New York
was raised for the purpose, and which was frustrated by the disaster to
the British fleet. The land and naval forces of New and Old England were
now to make rendezvous at Louisburg, and move up the St. Lawrence to
Quebec, while the provincial militia of the middle and lower colonies,
combined with the Iroquois if possible, should capture the French fort,
St. Frederick, at Crown Point, and the city of Montreal.

The disastrous inaction of King George and the London lords, arising
probably from jealousy of the provincials, and the rumours of a great
French fleet under D’Anville to be sent against New England, caused the
abandonment of the expedition to Quebec. This, however, was not known by
submarine electric cable; and meantime New York politics, at which we
must now glance, had become interesting.

Two friends, the Chief-Justice De Lancey and Governor Clinton,
quarrelled over their cups at a convivial gathering, and this took place
just after the latter had renewed the former’s commission for life.
Happening, too, on the eve of the great council of the Six Nations,
which Clinton had summoned at Albany, just when that town was
pestiferous with small-pox and bilious fever, the outlook for successful
negotiations was not very promising. Messrs. Rutherford, Livingston, and
Dr. Cadwallader Colden were the only members of his council who came
with Clinton, while of the expected Indians only three had arrived.
These, for the two scalps with the blood hardly dried on the hair, were
rewarded with strouds and laced coats, and sent to drum up recruits,
while the governor waited a month for the tardy, suspicious, and sullen
savages to appear before him.

Matters looked dark indeed. Yet when Mohawk runners, despatched by
Johnson on a scouting expedition to Crown Point, arrived, bringing news
of French preparations for a descent upon Schenectady and the Valley,
and possibly upon Albany, the governor was unable to see the imminent
danger. He still waited; he still believed wholly in the defensive
policy, and seemed satisfied, because for the fort on the Hudson at
Saratoga, now Easton, a sum equal to about eight hundred dollars had
been voted by the Assembly. This sum enabled the colonial engineers to
build a palisade one hundred and fifty feet long, with six redoubts for
barracks, all of timber, and to mount on platforms twelve cannon of six,
twelve, and eighteen pound calibre. In this way the summer was wasted in
waiting; for the Indians came not, and Clinton’s ambition to be a
powerful diplomatist with the Indians was for the present baffled.

Believing this was a matter between French and English alone, strongly
inclining to neutrality, and diligently persuaded thereto by the French
Jesuits, the Iroquois sulked at home. Not only did they flatly refuse to
meet the governor, but some of the chiefs went openly over to the

Meanwhile the white settlers were, according to Johnson’s report,
abandoning their farms along the Mohawk, and concentrating in the
block-houses or palisaded towns. Besides having sent Indian scouts to
the Champlain country, Johnson wrote urgent letters to Clinton stating
the case, and asking him to open his eyes to the facts. To protect
Johnson’s stores of eleven thousand bushels of grain, while standing his
ground, the governor sent a lieutenant and thirty men. Another militia
company was despatched to the upper Mohawk Castle. Having done these
things, Clinton, who had as early as the 4th of August officially
notified Governor Shirley of Massachusetts that he would proceed against
Crown Point with the warriors of the Five Nations, was at his wits’ end.
He had alienated Colonel Schuyler and the members of the Board of Indian
Commissioners, mostly faithful and trusted men well known in the
provinces. In the quarrel of the governor with De Lancey, these ranged
themselves on the side of the chief justice.

It is too clumsy an attempt at explanation of the difficulty between the
king’s agent, Clinton, and the Board of Indian Commissioners, to ascribe
the causes chiefly or entirely to the “rascality” of the commissioners,
who “abused their office for private peculation,” or to the ambition of
De Lancey. It is not necessary in one who appreciates the great
abilities of Johnson to describe him as a white lily of honesty and
purity. English authors, the Tory historians of the Revolution, and the
prejudiced writers of American history, who reflect their own narrowness
and sectional views, take delight in maligning the character of the men
of colonial New York simply because they were Dutch. As matter of
unsentimental fact, there is much to be said on both sides. The people
of New York were not anxious to send the Indians on the war-path, nor to
furnish white soldiers to guard their squaws and pappooses while they
were away from their villages. They were not at all persuaded of the
superior honesty either of the governor or his advisers and appointees.
The greater facts are also clear, that the New York Assembly was
vigilantly jealous of the people’s liberties, and was determined at all
hazards to limit the royal prerogative as far as possible. Since his
quarrel with De Lancey, the governor had shown excessive zeal in
maintaining the rights of the king. On the other hand, most of the steps
necessary to make New York an independent state had, as the British
Attorney-General Bradley declared, already been taken by his Assembly,
which of twenty-seven members had fourteen of Dutch descent. These men
were determined to teach the king’s agent that he must bow to the will
of the people, who were more important than king and court, and make no
advance in monarchical ideas. They saw that the governor was under the
close personal influence of Cadwallader Colden, a radical Tory, who they
suspected prepared most of Clinton’s State papers; and they set
themselves in array against this intermeddler on royalty’s behalf. Again
the petty jealousy which burned steadily in all the colonies made these
Dutchmen enjoy paying back the New Englanders in their own coin some of
the slights and insults of the past. The former had long looked down in
contempt on the settlers of New Amsterdam, and their sons now repaid
them in kind, and were on the whole rather glad to snub Shirley and to
annoy Clinton for so deferring to the wishes of the latter. Clinton
seemed lacking in tact, and was unable to conciliate the members of the
Board of Indian Commissioners, who one and all, led by Schuyler,

In a word, Clinton had begun his administration by trying to bully and
drive the Dutchmen. Now, those who know the men of this branch of the
Teutonic race have always found by experience that when their hearts are
won they are easily led. All attempts to drive them, however, usually
result as Alva’s and Philip’s plans resulted in the Netherlands, where
three hundred thousand Spaniards were buried; or as in South Africa,
where Dutch boers hold their own against British aggression. It took
Clinton some years to learn the lesson, but it was the same experience
of failure and retreat.

At his wits’ end, Governor Clinton turned to the man for the hour.
William Johnson was offered the appointment of Superintendent of Indian
Affairs, and at once accepted. Thus, at thirty-one years, opened in full
promise the splendid career of the Irish adventurer.

While no man in the province or continent comprehended more clearly the
gravity of the situation, no one better understood all the elements in
the case, the ground of faith in the immediate improvement of affairs,
and the ultimate supremacy of the British cause. Johnson was a man of
continental ideas. Without losing an instant of time he at once set
himself to the task of getting hold of the chief men of the Six Nations.
He first sent wampum belts to the Pennsylvanian Indians and the Esopus
tribe, asking their co-operation with the Albany Council. He put on
Indian dress, and for weeks gave himself up to their pastimes. Sparing
not paint, grease, ochre, feathers, games, or councils, he arrayed
himself as one of their own braves. He encouraged them to get up
war-dances, in order to excite their martial spirit. He was speedily
successful in turning the tide of opinion in one whole canton of the
Confederacy in favour of attending the Albany Convention.

It was probably about this time that Johnson was formally adopted into
the Mohawk tribe, made a chief, and received that name which was ever
afterward his Indian title. This habit of the Iroquois, of especially
and significantly naming prominent personages, is still in vogue. When
some Dakota Indians visited Boston in 1889, after seeing Charlestown and
Bunker Hill Monument, they called on Governor Brackett, and named him
the “Great Rock in the Clouds.”

The title which the Mohawks gave their new white chief and leader in
1746, was, according to the anarchic and unscientific spelling of the
time, War-ragh-i-yah-gey. The term may be translated “Chief Director of
Affairs.” It may with economy of vocables be spelled Wa-ra-i-ya-gé.

Other matters contributed to this success, and utilized the work of
others. Conrad Weiser, the Pennsylvanian German interpreter, had been
recently among the tribes as far as Ohio, influencing them in favour of
the English. A happy accident—the coming of a delegation of Chickasaws
from the West and South to invade Canada, and to invite the Senecas to
take part and pilot them—awoke this most western division of the
Iroquois Confederacy to the importance of the accession. The
simultaneous offers of alliance and aid by other scattered tribes led to
a complete change of views. In a word, the Senecas resolved to sit at
the Albany caucus. With the tribes at each end, the west and the east of
the Long House, thus in substantial accord, Johnson directed the Mohawks
to send out runners to the whole confederation. Thus the work of winning
over the other few tribes, at least so far as attendance at Albany was
concerned, proved to be comparatively easy.

Even the feuds and quarrels which at the time divided the Long House
seemed to work for Johnson’s fame and the English cause. For some reason
in Iroquois politics, occult to a white man, the house was divided
against itself: the Senecas, Onondagas, and Mohawks composed one great
faction; the Oneidas, Cayugas, and Tuscaroras formed the other and
weaker. The latter tribe from the Carolinas, which had joined the
Confederacy a generation before, in 1712, were far from being won over
so as to take up arms for the English. When the fighting braves and
counselling old men came to pow-wow with the large faction, the first
thing done by them was to give the Mohawks, especially, a vigorous
scolding for having acted so presumptuously and independently without
taking council of the whole Confederacy. After lively debate and
rejoinder, it was agreed by all to go to Albany, but with the river
between the factions on their journey. So, along the banks of the Mohawk
the delegates of the Confederacy marched as far as Schenectady, when
quitting the river, the trail across country and to Norman’s Kill was
followed. All but three of the Mohawk chiefs had been won to the English
side. Of these, two of the Bear-totem clan lived at the upper castle at
Canajoharie, and the third of the Tortoise-totem clan at the lower
castle on the hill near Schoharie Creek. These dignitaries were finally
persuaded by Rev. Mr. Barclay, then living among the Mohawks, and the
famous Dr. Cadwallader Colden, who knew the Indians well, and later
became the historian of the Six Nations.

It was a decisive moment in the history of America when on the 8th of
August, 1746, the two rival divisions marched down old Patroon Street,
the Clinton Avenue of to-day, and into State Street to Fort Frederick.
Leading the Mohawk band in all the paraphernalia of Indian dress and
decoration, with abundant ochre and plumes, was the pale-faced man,
Johnson, who could whoop, yell, leap, dance, run, wrestle, play racket,
and eat dog-hash—drawing the line at the cannibal feast,—with the best
champions in any of the six tribes. The double column moved past Fort
Frederick, where now stands the Episcopal Church, the Indians firing
their guns and the fort its ordnance. Then the gates of the sallyport
swung open, and in the largest room of the fort the red men squatted and
were served with food.

                               CHAPTER V.

WHEN the conference opened, August 19, Dr. Cadwallader took the place of
Governor Clinton, who was down with fever. The two delegates from
Massachusetts, Mr. Nelles and Colonel Wendell, were also present, but
none from Connecticut appeared. Colden’s speech was a bubble of
rhetoric, fairly dazzling with the prismatics of a lively imagination.
It rehearsed facts, fancies, and prophecies appropriate to the
situation. The colossal but purely mythical preparations supposed to be
made in Great Britain, in the reality of which the sailor-governor
himself heartily believed, were duly set forth. Then the wrongs suffered
by the Indians at the hands of the “perfidious” French were detailed,
until the braves were stirred in eye and nostril, and the chiefs grunted
out, “Yo-hay! yo-hay!” (“Do you hear! do you believe!”), and general
applause in Indian fashion followed as the interpreter finished each
sentence. The war spirit was further roused by flatteries which fell
like oil on the flames, kindling the fiercest enthusiasm. After the
usual promises of gifts and equipment, with assurance of reward and
booty in the future, the orator wound up by narrating the murder of some
white men, their brothers, even since their arrival in Albany, and
calling upon his hearers for immediate and permanent revenge.

Taking it all in all, this speech of Clinton and Colden’s is a fair
sample of the lies, false promises, and irresponsible assertions on
which the red man has been fed, from the first coming of the whites, to
the battle with the Sioux, near Pine Ridge Agency, in January, 1891. The
proper peroration of the speech, according to Indian etiquette, was the
casting down of a wampum war-belt with verbal assurances and in symbolic
intent that the British would live and die with their brethren the
Iroquois. When this was done, a war-whoop was raised that must have been
heard in every cabin and iron-monogrammed brick-house in the colony and

On that very day, as was soon afterward learned, the French were at Fort
Massachusetts,[5] which had been built by Col. Ephraim Williams. It
stood in the meadows east of Williamstown, under the shadow of old
Greylock, beyond the present town of North Adams. After two days’ siege
the brave garrison surrendered and were led away to Canada. The French
lost forty-seven men. The fort was afterward, in 1747, rebuilt, and was
the scene of more than one attack by the enemy.

The council-fire was then raked up, so that the braves might have time
to sleep, smoke, and deliberate for reply. When the council re-opened on
the 24th, the governor was present, and the first orator at the
rekindled fire was an Onondaga chief. After the usual efflorescence of
forest rhetoric, he promised in the name of the Seven Nations—a small
army of eight hundred braves from Detroit and the Lake country, the
Missesagues, having temporarily joined the confederates for the common
purpose—to dig up the hatchet against the French and their allies. They
further agreed to roast alive any French priest who came among them. The
next day was devoted to distributing the presents sent from the king and
the governors of Virginia and Massachusetts; the new tribe, Missesagues,
receiving one fourth. On the 26th the kettle was hung over the fire, and
a great war-dance held, in which, after unusual smearings of paint, the
weird, wild, and guttural, but pathetic songs were sung. After a few
private interviews with the chiefs, and further tickling of their palms
with presents and their stomachs with fire-water, the council-fire was
put out by separation and scattering. Part of the Valley Indians
remained in Albany, in token of their loyalty to the English, while most
of them returned to their castles to organize war-parties. Unfortunately
an epidemic of the small-pox broke out at this time all along the
Valley, carrying off hundreds of the Indians, among whom were the two
delegates from the Missesagues.

Other councils were held with lesser bodies of Indians; and Johnson,
despite the raging of the small-pox among the Valley Indians,
endeavoured to keep the savages on the war-path toward Canada; but
little was accomplished during the summer. While the coming French fleet
was destroyed by storm, Johnson increased his fortune by being appointed
government contractor for Oswego, and his fame by being commissioned by
Clinton as Colonel of militia. The only campaign in 1747 was one of
paper and ink, Shirley and Clinton being the chief combatants. There
were also raids and fights on the New England borders, but little took
place that needs to be chronicled here. Clinton and De Lancey kept up
their quarrels; the former warning Johnson of his illustrious relative,
venting his wrath on the Dutch legislators, and taking high-handed
vengeance on Judge Daniel Horsmanden. This champion of the Assembly and
people, and one of the ablest jurists in the province, was most
obnoxious, politically, to the king’s representatives. He was also
personally offensive as being the co-worker with Chief-Justice De

On the 12th of September Horsmanden was suspended from service as a
member of the council. The fact was published in the journal; but no
reason was given for this, except that the governor announced that he
would explain his action to the king. Horsmanden was also removed from
his other positions,—as commissioner to meet the representatives of the
other colonies, and as judge and recorder of the city. This act of the
governor’s still further irritated the “stubborn Dutchmen,” whose
hostility now turned into a war to the knife. Even though savages were
ravaging the suburbs of New York, it is doubtful whether they would have
been turned from their determination to fight absolutism, in the person
of Clinton. When the governor announced the return of Johnson from his
fruitless search after the enemy at Crown Point, the temper of the
Assembly was not improved. They were tired of having the praises of
Johnson sounded in their ears. They still refused, in the face of
Johnson’s contract, while still in force, to furnish extra guards for
the fulfilment of his stipulation in provisioning Oswego. They also
adhered to their determination not to yield to the governor’s demands,
so long as he thwarted their purposes. In affirming their former
resolutions, they, nevertheless, offered to indemnify Johnson if through
accident he became a loser by fulfilling his contract.

Meanwhile, the governor held counsel with the New England commissioners,
and despite the remonstrances of the members, bluffed off his little
Parliament until October 5. The frontier was still exposed. It was hard
to get volunteers for Oswego, largely owing to the abominable
drunkenness of the officers there, and the lack of good discipline. Two
companies from Colonel Schuyler’s regiment were therefore drafted for
the purpose. It being practically impossible to maintain the weak force
at Saratoga, this post, which had been named Fort Clinton, was burned by
order, and the ordnance and stores removed to Albany. In this unpleasant
state of affairs Colonel Johnson was summoned to New York, and on
October 9 was examined by the committee of the Executive Council. He
exposed the grave state of affairs, in that the Indians had been kept
from hunting for a whole year, and were now destitute. Unless something
were speedily done, he felt he must abandon Mount Johnson and his
interests in the Mohawk Valley. He even imagined that his leaving would
be the general signal for an exodus of all the white people from the
Mohawk basin. He recommended the erection of forts both in the Seneca
and the Oneida districts. He believed that these measures, with plenty
of presents, and the ferreting out of the miscellaneous rumsellers who
debauched the Indians, would make safe the northern frontier and save
the colony.

Clinton’s message to the Assembly, October 6, was presented with high
praises of Johnson, a vindication of himself, and an exhortation to act
promptly and liberally, as the Iroquois sachems were waiting with
Johnson in the city to see what would be done in their behalf. The
conquest of Crown Point was still in view; and men, money, and supplies
were asked for. It was intimated that the Crown (the mother country) had
already done its full part, and that the colonies should now do theirs.

Still the Assemblymen, who thought the Indians ought to have been
allowed to go on their hunting, ought to have been kept friendly, but
not stirred up to fight the French or be sent to Canada, and ought to
have stayed in New York to guard their own old men and squaws instead of
having white men drafted to do it, distrusted the servant of the king
and the tool of Colden, and doubted the fitness of the governor’s
appointees to office. They questioned the wisdom of the governor’s
general policy; and they intimated, with only too good reason, that the
money so freely distributed for the Indians was not properly and
publicly accounted for. They voted promptly all that was necessary for
the expedition against Canada. They fully realized the necessity of
holding firm the loyalty of the Six Nations; and to keep it, they
offered at once to vote the sum of eight hundred pounds, provided the
persons chosen to distribute the people’s money were such as they
approved of. In regard to the forts on the distant frontier, so near
Canada, they considered that the other colonies should share the expense
of permanently guarding the king’s dominions.

In answer to these defiant resolutions, which practically impeached the
governor, Clinton sent a curt and insulting note of less than one
hundred words. The Dutchman’s ire now blazed fiercely. After the
significant ceremony of locking the door and laying the key on the
table, they proceeded to issue a manifesto, marshalling in review the
whole proceedings since June 6, 1746. They censured him for removing the
former commissioners of Indian affairs, and for practically making Dr.
Colden the real administrator of affairs in the cabinet, and Colonel
Johnson in the field. They sneered at the pretensions and vanity of the
governor in his constant boasting of what he claimed to have done. They
charged him with treating the people of the colony with contempt, and
with insulting them by vile epithets. They complained of the many brief
and inconvenient adjournments to which he had needlessly subjected them.
Especially were they enraged in their feelings at the deference paid, at
their expense, to the commissioners from Massachusetts and Connecticut.
They claimed that they ought to have been kept in session, in order that
they might have been advised with, and their opinions consulted from
time to time as to the matters under consideration.

In this last point, especially, the Dutch blood was roused; for although
in monarchical England the power of making treaties is vested in the
sovereign, yet in the Dutch Republic, then a living reality before their
eyes, the States-General, like the United States Senate, shared with the
Stadtholder or President the right of treaty-making, and had the power
of veto upon all compacts. Even in Great Britain, the exercise of the
treaty-making power by the king was subject to parliamentary censure,
and ministers negotiating a disadvantageous treaty were liable to
impeachment. This right had been several times exercised in the
sixteenth and even in the fifteenth century.

The address wound up by this declaration: “No treatment your Excellency
can use toward us, no inconveniences how great soever that we may suffer
in our own persons, shall ever prevail upon us to abandon, or deter us
from steadily preserving the interest of our country.”

A committee waited upon the governor on the 9th of October, to present
the address; but the angry executive would not hear it, nor receive a
copy, and three days later replied with all the artillery of rhetoric
and abuse which he and his secretary were able to load into the
document. It was as full of vituperation as a carronade of later day was
of langrage shot. As to their complaint that the money intended for
Indian presents was not honestly distributed, he charged the House with
telling “as bold a falsehood as ever came from a body of men.” He was in
no way accountable to the Assembly for the manner in which he
distributed the money of the Crown. He charged them with violating both
the civil and military prerogatives of the king. “Nor will I,” he said,
“give up the least branch of it [the military prerogative] on any
consideration, however desirous you may be to have it, or to bear the
whole command.” He also asserted, with some attempt at humour, that
their farce of locking the door and placing the key upon the table—a
symbolic act charging breach of privilege upon the executive—was a high
insult to King George’s authority, and in so far, an act of disloyalty.
He charged that they were assuming the rights and privileges of the
House of Commons, and renouncing their subjection to the Crown and
Parliament. He had his Majesty’s express command not to suffer them to
bring some matters into the House, nor to debate upon them; and he
intimated that he had a right to stop proceedings when they seemed to
him improper or disorderly. After a tirade upon their insolence and
unbecoming conduct, his peroration was a warning not to infringe upon
the royal prerogative.

Safety-valves having thus been opened through the ink-bottles, the war
of words ceased, and both governor and legislators proceeded to
diligence in business. In expectation that Massachusetts and Connecticut
would bear their quota of expense, the governor was requested, October
15, to carry out his plan of sending gunsmiths and other mechanics to
live among and assist the tribes of the Confederacy westward of the
Mohawks. Four days after, however, news came from England ordering the
disbanding of all the levies for the expedition to Canada. This was
disheartening alike to the governors and the people of the colonies; but
some compromise measures were amicably agreed upon between Clinton and
the Assembly.

Peace, in New York City at least, seemed almost at hand, when Clinton
again attempted folly in trying to muzzle the press. The Assembly had
ordered Parker, the public printer, to publish the address and
remonstrance of the Assembly, in which they asserted the rights of the
people. The governor commanded him to desist. Parker stood by the people
and their Assembly, as against the king and his foolish governor. After
Cosby’s ignominious failure to restrain the liberty of the press by
imprisoning Zenger, this act of Clinton’s seemed like that of a madman
or a man who had no memory. The Assembly ordered Parker to print their
manifests, and to furnish each member with two copies, “that their
constituents might know it was their firm resolution to preserve the
liberty of the press.”

In a word, all this wrangle between colonial governor and Assembly was
really the cause of popular liberty against monarchy, of ordered freedom
under law against despotism. It was part of the chequered story of
liberty, in which the people of New York were in no whit behind those of
any of the colonies, but rather led them. Clinton, by his blunders, and
Colden, by his toryism, helped grandly forward the American revolution,
while the names of Parker and Zenger belong with those of the promoters
of order and freedom. When on the 25th day of November,
1747,—significant date, for on that day, only thirty-six years later,
King George’s troops and mercenaries evacuated that very city of New
York, in which Clinton had illustrated the folly of monarchy,—after
addressing, or rather berating, the people’s representatives, he
concluded his address with the significant words:—

“Your continued grasping for power, with an evident tendency to the
weakening of the dependency of the province on Great Britain,
accompanied by such notorious and public disrespect to the character of
your governor, and contempt of the king’s authority intrusted with him,
cannot longer be hid from your superiors, but must come under their
observation, and is of most dangerous example to your neighbours.”

It was, indeed, true that New York was setting what was in the eyes of
the Tories a most dangerous example to her neighbours. Most of the
people of this colony were descendants of those who had come from the
Dutch Republic, where the taxation without consent had been resisted for
centuries, and where resistance to monarchy and feudal ideas had been
exalted into a principle. It was this determined spirit, reinforced by
the lovers of liberty, whether of Huguenot, Irish, Scottish, or Welsh
blood, or men from the mother country who believed that the rights of
Englishmen were still theirs, that made New York lead all the thirteen
original colonies in outgrowing the colonial spirit. New Yorkers first
took the steps which must logically and actually lead to separation from
the transatlantic country, whose language was indeed spoken in America,
but by colonists who had continued the institutions not of monarchical
England, but of republican Holland.


[5] I visited the site of Fort Massachusetts, March 12, 1891. Though
long ago levelled by the plough, the spot has been marked by Prof.
Arthur Latham Perry, of Williams College, who planted the handsome
elm-tree which now flourishes there. The sword, watch, and many other
interesting relics of Colonel Williams, moulded or rusted, from Fort
Massachusetts, from the battle-grounds of Lake George, Bloody Pond, and
other places famous in colonial warfare, are carefully preserved in the
college cabinet. A monument with the names of the garrison should mark
the site of Fort Massachusetts.

                              CHAPTER VI.

TO REORGANIZE the demoralized militia of the northern counties, Governor
Clinton in November offered the command of the entire frontier to
Johnson, who after due consideration accepted. Besides having the
confidence of the people, among whom he was personally popular, Johnson,
being backed by the Executive Council, was able to do the work expected
of him, and bring about much needed reform, especially in improving the
quality of the officers and the general discipline. The able-bodied men
of the Mohawk Valley, mostly Dutch and German, with a few English,
Irish, and Scots, were organized into nine companies of militia. Each
village or settlement had its company of one hundred men, the most
westward being at German Flats. Schenectady had two companies, and at
Albany there were several; while all the farmers living in the open
country, between forts or palisaded villages, were likewise enrolled.

Johnson’s wealth as farmer, fur-trader, army-contractor, and salaried
officer was now steadily increasing. Even the victualling of Oswego
ceased to be a losing enterprise, since the Assembly, in February, 1748,
voted two hundred pounds to reimburse him for the extraordinary charges
to which he had been put. The same Assembly, however, voted one hundred
and fifty pounds to Mr. Horsmanden, whom Clinton had arbitrarily deposed
from the Council, and also appointed an agent to reside in London to
represent them and act with them and for the people against the
governor. In this the Dutch legislators were following a precedent which
their fathers had established, in having agents to represent them to the
States-General in Holland, and which they continued under English rule,
when they sent Peter Stuyvesant to the Court of King Charles II. in

The expedition to Canada being wholly given up, it was necessary to
conciliate the Indians with presents. In April, Johnson set out to
Onondaga, the central council-fire of the Iroquois Confederacy, to meet
the delegates of all the tribes, in order to ascertain their temper and
invite them to a great council at Albany. His other purposes in going
were to circumvent the schemes of Joncaire the French Jesuit, and talk
the Indians into giving their permission to have forts erected in their
country. As usual, he was not too squeamish in the use of means to
accomplish his purpose. He wrote from Albany, April 9, 1748, to Captain
Catherwood: “I shall leave no stone unturned to accomplish what I go at,
either by fair or foul means; for if they are obstinate—I mean the
Onondagas—I shall certainly talk very harsh with them, and try what
that will do.”

Leaving Mount Johnson with a guard of fifty men, with Captain Thomas
Butler and Lieutenant Laurie as officers, he set off, in bateaux heavily
laden with presents and provisions, up the Mohawk. To move these loaded
boats against the current, by punting, pushing, pulling, sailing, or
floating their way along, was slow work, but was safely accomplished.
Some of the Indians had come with pleasant remembrances of the courtesy
of Mount Johnson. They felt deeply that sort of gratitude which has been
defined as a “lively sense of favours to come.” Having arrived some days
before, and waited with attenuated rations, they were ravenous when
Johnson and his stores arrived on April 24. After a salute of fire-arms
and the unfurling of a British flag, three bark houses were assigned to
the company, while Johnson was escorted to a large new lodge in which
the mats were fresh and clean. That night a feast was given to the
Indians out of the stores brought, all business being deferred until
next day.

With all formality of pipes and tobacco, splendour of Indian and
civilized costume, the council opened next morning. It was a contest of
tongues, and one garrulous Irishman was here to enter the lists and to
pit himself, with seemingly interminable prolixity of speech and the
fixed ammunition of Indian rhetoric, against a host of tireless tongues.
With plenty of talk to fill their ears and abundance of good things to
tickle their stomachs, Johnson succeeded in strengthening the covenant
of Corlaer; and the issue of the council was, on the whole, all that,
even to Johnson, could be expected. In reporting results, Johnson
suggested to the governor that proper regulation of the sale of rum
among the Indians was the first thing to be considered.

Clinton, while happy in knowing that the Iroquois would come to the
Albany council, was brooding over the tendency everywhere manifest in
the colonies to assert their independence. Johnson’s full report of the
tongue-victory at the Onondaga council was laid before the Assembly,
June 21. The governor added, that to hold the Indians loyal to the
English it would be necessary to prosecute the expedition against Crown
Point, and at once make arrangements for exchange of prisoners. In this
latter suggestion, and with that recommending a severe enactment against
rumsellers, the Assembly at once concurred. A few days after came news
of the treaty of peace at Aix-la-Chapelle.

Johnson, by unremitting exertion, had succeeded in securing the largest
attendance of Indians that had ever assembled in Albany. They came from
all the tribes of the Confederacy and from the lake region westward,
besides remnants of New England and Hudson River Indians. Many of these
Indians had never seen a civilized town, and greatly enjoyed the regular
meals and other comforts of civilization, while interested in studying
houses with chimneys, carpets, glass windows, and other things unknown
to forest life. Great preparations had been made to receive them and to
keep them in the best of humour. What with the clerks, quartermasters,
interpreters, and others of the official class, the militia and the
citizens, the farming folk who had flocked into the city to see the
sights, in addition to villagers from the region around, Albany had
never before beheld so large a population, nor shown such picturesque
activity in her streets. In the oldest city in any of the colonies north
of the municipality on Manhattan Island, these few days in the month of
July were long remembered.

The eighteenth day of July had come; and all the Indians expected,
hundreds in number, had already arrived, and were beginning to think
“Brother Corlaer” was as dilatory as his war operations had all along
been. Governor Shirley and the Massachusetts commissioners, however, had
come; and all lay down at night expecting the great palaver would be but
a day or two off. But before Clinton was to arrive, they were to learn
how near the enemy was even at that moment.

In the evening exciting news was brought them from Schenectady. A battle
had been fought between a party of Canadian Indians and the militia and
villagers just beyond Schenectady, in which twenty whites had been
killed and a number taken prisoners. The drums at once beat to quarters,
and Captain Chew with one hundred militiamen and two hundred of the
Indians, told off from those in convention, marched at once in pursuit.
The Indians from Albany expected to head off the raiders, and hence went
along the usual trails to Canada; but this time the Canada savages had
retreated along the Sacandaga road and creek, “by a different road from
what they used to go,” as Onnasdego, an Onondaga sachem, said to Clinton
in his oration a few days afterward. Johnson remained in Albany
attending to his horde of guests; while Captain Chew and his band made
vain pursuit. On the 22d, the day of the opening of the council, he
received a letter from Albert Van Slyck, dated “Schonaictaiday, July
21st, 1749,” giving a brief detail of the bloody affray. Van Slyck was
an honest Dutch farmer, whose defective powers in English composition
were in contrast with his courage; and his Dutch-English account is
difficult to make certain sense of, especially in its blotted,
time-stained, and torn condition in the Johnson manuscripts at Albany;
but, except some entries in the family Bibles of people in or near the
town, this is the only known contemporaneous writing by one who was in
the fight. It is not mentioned even in Parkman’s “Montcalm and Wolfe,”
nor in the colonial or more recent histories, except Drake’s, though
sometimes referred to inaccurately.

Further, it was difficult, until 1752, for an intelligent Hollander or
American of Holland descent, whose ancestors since 1581 had adopted the
calendar of Christendom to keep the run of English chronology, which was
eleven days behind the rest of the world. For over a century and a half,
England was very much in the condition of Russia of the present day, as
compared with the rest of Europe. The English used “the old style,” or
the calendar of Julius Cæsar, while the continental nations made use of
the modern or Gregorian calendar. It may be that this explains why Van
Slyck dated his letter one year ahead, 1749, instead of 1748.

Van Slyck’s letter describes an event which for a generation formed a
leading topic at the evening firesides of the people of Schenectady, and
of many in Connecticut. The tremendous loss in men, chiefly heads of
families, that fell upon this frontier town is almost unknown to
history; yet the fight at Beechdale was one of the most stubbornly
contested little battles of the Old French War. Instead of being “an
autumnal foray” upon a party of woodmen, it was a stand-up, hand-to-hand
fight by the Schenectady men against savages who were consummate
ambuscaders, and well versed in all the arts of woodcraft and the tricks
most likely to confound raw militiamen.

The battle-field lies on the Toll Farm, three miles west of Schenectady,
and is visible from the car-windows to the right of a train on the New
York Central Railroad going westward. A company of Schenectady men were
at Maalwyck, a place not far from the town, on the north side of the
river. Messrs. Dirk Van Voast and Daniel Toll, with Toll’s negro slave,
Ryckert, left their comrades to find their horses which had strayed off.
A few minutes after they had left, firing was heard in the direction in
which they had gone, by the Van Slyck brothers, Adrian and Albert, one
of whom was afterward in the fight and wrote the meagre account which is
now among the Johnson papers. They at once sent a messenger, their negro
slave, to Schenectady to give the alarm, which was doubtless sounded out
from the belfry of the strong fortress-church by the Widow Margarita
Veeder, the _klok-luider_ or bell-ringer at that time. The summons came
first before noon. The negro delivered his message, bidding the men go
out to Abraham De Graaf’s house at Beukendal, where Van Slyck would meet

At this time there was a company of New England militia in the town
under the command of Captain Stoddard, who was then absent, his place
being filled by Lieut. John Darling. The militiamen were from
Connecticut, and were raw levies unused to Indian warfare. They started
off accompanied by five or six young men and Daniel Van Slyck, another
brother of the writer. The party numbered about seventy men in all.
Another company of armed men, whose number is not stated, left for the
scene of conflict a few minutes later, to see if they could find or see
Daniel Toll.

Toll and Van Voast, after leaving the Van Slycks at Maalwyck, had
reached a place two miles away, near the house of De Graaf, and called
in Dutch, Poopendaal, or later, Beukendal or Beech Dale. Within or
beyond the dale, was a well-known place on hard clayey soil, full of
deer-licks at which the deer used to come to lick the salt. At this
_kleykuil_, or clay-pit, the two men imagined they heard, about ten
o’clock, the sound of horses’ hoofs stamping on the hard ground, but
with a regularity that seemed very suspicious. Approaching warily
nearer, they discovered that the noise came from a party of Indians
playing quoits. Almost as soon as the two white men came in sight, they
were fired on by the savages, who had seen their coming. Toll was
instantly killed, and Van Voast was wounded and made prisoner. The black
man, Ryckert, fled toward Schenectady.

The wily savages now prepared to ambuscade the party which they knew
would soon appear from Schenectady. For this purpose they laid a
sensational trap in a field, somewhat off from the path and in a defile
near the creek, which was surrounded with forest and bush. Taking the
dead body of Mr. Toll, they set it up against a fence and tied a live
crow in front of the corpse. This curious sight of a wild crow flying up
and down before an apparently living man they knew would at once excite
the attention, especially of the impulsive and unwary young men who, as
they supposed, would be the first on the field. The sequel proves they
were not disappointed.

Lieutenant Darling and his Connecticut men marched out, cautiously
searching for the enemy, but seeing no trace of any. At Mr. Simon
Groot’s unoccupied house they found Adrian Van Slyck, who with a few men
had arrived and learned from the negro boy Ryckert, that his master, Mr.
Toll, had been shot. Though nearly paralyzed with fear, he offered to
point out the place where he fell. The negro was furnished with a horse,
and acted as pilot to the advance party of about forty men. Soon after
they had gone, Ackes Van Slyck arrived and remained with his men near
the house.

Pretty soon the strange phenomenon of a crow playing near a man arrested
their attention, and they at once marched into the trap to see the
curious sight. Very soon they discovered that the man was a corpse, and
the crow was tied to it with a string. At this moment when nearly all
were in the defile along the creek, and off their guard, the crash of
the enemy’s guns enlightened them as to the situation. They found
themselves in a ravine or hollow curved like a horseshoe, and nearly
surrounded on both sides by woods, from which puffs of white smoke and
flashes of fire were issuing from unseen enemies. Eight or ten of the
whites were at once stretched dead on the clay ground, and then the
yelling savages leaped out of cover with knife and hatchet.

The militiamen soon broke and ran, but the Schenectady men bravely stood
their ground. It took a moment to deliver their fire, and then with
musket clubbed or thrown aside, the fighting became, for a few minutes,
a series of desperate encounters between white and red man, in which it
happened more than once that both buried their knives in each other.
After the battle the bodies of Glen, De Graaf, and other noted Indian
fighters were found alongside their dead enemies with whom they had
wrested in deadly struggle. In this hand-to-hand fight twelve of the
party of whites were killed, and five made prisoners; Lieutenant
Darling’s company losing seven men, who were shot dead, and six missing.

Adrian Van Slyck and a company of New York militiamen now reached the
scene, where the little band of whites were found behind trees and
stumps holding the enemy at bay; Lieutenant Darling having been killed
at the first fire, Ackes Van Slyck was directing the fight. No sooner
had the New York reinforcements got into the line of Indian fire, than
they all fled in the most cowardly manner. Adrian Van Slyck and the two
or three Schenectady men who stood by him in this part of the field were
shot down.

The rest of the original party of whites now retreated out through the
western entrance of the vale, and joined by Albert Van Slyck and a few
men from the village, reached the house of Abraham De Graaf near by.
This substantial edifice—still standing, but used as a dried-apple
bleacher when the writer visited it—was not then occupied, but was new
and strong, and stood on commanding ground. The fact of its being empty
shows the condition of affairs; the people who lived in isolated
farm-houses being at this time gathered almost wholly in palisaded
villages or other fortified places.

Hastily entering, they barred the door, and reaching the second story,
tore off all the boards near the floor and eaves, and prepared for a
stubborn defence. With their keen marksmanship they kept the enemy at
bay, completely baffling the savages, who peppered the house in vain.
While this siege was going on, the two Indian lads left in charge of
Dirk Van Voast, eager to see the fight, tied their prisoner to a tree,
and climbing up the slope of the ravine, became absorbed in the firing.
Van Voast succeeded in reaching his knife, cut the thongs binding him,
and ran off to Schenectady, meeting another squad of armed men from the
village hastening to the scene. These were led by Jacob Glen, and Albert
Van Slyck, the writer describing the event.

Van Slyck had hoped to gather enough men to get out and surround the
Indians so as to capture the whole band; but Garret Van Antwerp, fearing
lest the town would be left without a garrison in case of attack, would
suffer no more to leave the palisades. However, this last reinforcement
reached the battle-ground in time to drive off the savages, who were
fighting the previously sent party from behind trees, and to save the
bodies of Adrian Van Slyck and the dead men near him from being scalped
and stripped. Seeing this last party approaching, the savages drew off,
retreating up the Sacandaga road. All the whites, including the last
comers, the scattered out-door fighters behind trees, and the little
garrison in the house, now united. They proceeded at once to count up
their loss, and to gather up the dead men and load them on wagons for
burial in Schenectady.

What the loss of the Indians was in this battle, as in most others, the
white men were never able to find out. Except at the scene of the first
firing and ambuscade, Indian corpses were not visible. The first purpose
of the redskins, as soon as the opening fury of battle slackened, was to
conceal their loss. To run out from cover, even in the face of the fire,
and draw away the corpses of their friends, was their usual habit, and
to this they were thoroughly trained. Exposure in such work was more
cheerfully borne than in regular combat, though usually the dead body
was reached by cautious approach, and with as much concealment as
possible in the undergrowth. A noose at the end of a rope was skilfully
thrown over the head of the corpse, and the end of the rope carried back
into cover. As skilfully as a band of medical students or
resurrectionists can put a hook under the chin of a corpse and hoist it
up from under the coffin-lid half sawed off, the savages in ambush would
draw the body of their fallen comrade out of sight, to be quickly
concealed or buried. Indian fighters often told stories of dead men
apparently turning into snakes and gliding out of sight. Owing to this
habit of the Indians, it was very difficult to arrive at the exact
execution done by the white man’s fire. As most of the Schenectady men
were trained Indian fighters, the loss of the savages was probably

This was a sad day for Schenectady. One third of the white force engaged
were dead or wounded. Twenty corpses—twelve of them Schenectady
fathers, sons, or brothers, and eight Connecticut men—were laid on the
floor of a barn, near the church, which is still standing. The sorrowing
wives, mothers, and sisters came to identify the scalped and maimed dear
ones. Thirteen or fourteen men were missing, while the number of wounded
was never accurately known. In the Green Street burying-ground, east of
the “Old Queen’s Fort,” the long funeral procession followed the
corpses, while Domine Van Santvoord committed dust to dust.

Many are the touching traditions of sorrow connected with this
“Beukendal massacre.” So it, indeed, appeared to the people of
Schenectady, because of so many of their prominent men thus suddenly
slain. To them it was in some sense a repetition of the awful night of
Feb. 8, 1690. Yet, instead of its being a massacre, it was a stand-up,
hand-to-hand fight in Indian fashion, and a typical border-battle. In
the superb and storied edifice of “The First Reformed Protestant Dutch
Church of Schenectady, in the county of Albany,”—so called in the old
charter given by King George II., and so rich in the graphic symbols of
“the church in the Netherlands under the Cross,” as well as of local
history,—a tablet epitomizing the history of the church in its five
edifices was set in its niche after the two hundredth anniversary of the
founding of the church, celebrated June 21, 1880. It is “in pitiful
remembrance of the martyrs who perished in the massacres of February
9th, 1690, and July 18th, 1748.” From the rear church window one may
still look, in 1891, on the barn on the floor of which the bodies were
brought and laid for identification on the day when the sturdy
Dutch-American Albert Van Slyck signed his letter to “Coll. William
Johnson at Albany,” “your Sorrowfull and Revengfull friend on those
Barbarous Enemys, and am at all Times on your Command.”

Clinton, accompanied by his satellite, Dr. Colden, and some other
members of his council, arrived in Albany, July 20. The next day, after
those necessary ceremonies to which the Indians are as great bond-slaves
as their civilized brethren, the council fairly opened. A great palaver
ensued, and talk flowed unceasingly for hour after hour, until many ears
needed rest even more than the few busy tongues. The governor wound up
his long address by referring to the battle of Beukendal, so recent and
so near by.

After three days of smoke and thought, a wordy warrior from Onondaga
replied for the Confederacy in prolix detail. The day was closed with a
dance by the young braves, and the king’s health was drunk in five
barrels of beer.

On the following day the River Indians spoke, expressing gratitude for
favours past, and asserting that if they had been present when news of
the Schenectady battle reached Albany, they would have cheerfully joined
in pursuit, even to the gate of Crown Point.

By this time it was no longer possible to suppress the news of peace in
Europe, and the poor savages who had been goaded into digging up the
hatchet and neglecting their hunting, and who were thirsting for
revenge, were now left in the lurch, and told to go quietly home.
Nevertheless, most of the colonists were satisfied with the result of
the council, and Johnson’s popularity increased. The Iroquois were
pleased when they found that both Shirley and Clinton were about to send
back all the French prisoners to Canada, and to ask for the return of
both the white, red, and black captives, who had been carried away from
their homes south of the St. Lawrence.

Lieutenant Stoddard and Captain Anthony Van Schaick went to Canada, and
into the Indian country; but their success was not gratifying. Only
twenty-four prisoners accompanied Lieutenant Stoddard when he left
Canada, June 28, 1750. The white boys and girls who had nearly or wholly
forgotten their old home and kin, and had been adopted into the tribes,
declined, or were forced to decline, going back. Occasionally white
women had abjured their religion, and in other cases the red squaws
threatened sure death to the adopted captives should they try to return,
even at the French governor’s orders. With the Indians, however,
exchange was more easy, though the savages were unable to understand the
delays of diplomacy between Clinton and Gallissonière; and to pacify
them, Johnson was often at his wits’ end. However, by his personal
influence, by visits of condolence, by social participation in their
games and feasts, by persistent patience, public eloquence, private
persuasion, and the frequent use of money and other material gifts, he
won fresh laurels of success. In spite of the diplomacy of La
Gallissonière, the ceaselessly active Jesuit priests, French cunning and
strategy on the one hand, and English and Dutch weakness and villany on
the other, he held the whole Iroquois Confederacy loyal to the British
Crown. The greatness of Johnson is nobly shown in thus foiling the
French and all their resources.

This year, amid manifold commercial, military, and domestic cares, he
entertained the famous Swedish botanist, naturalist, and traveller,
Peter Kalm, with whose name the evergreen plant _Kalmia_ is associated.
He had come at the suggestion of Linnæus to investigate the botany and
natural history of North America. He arrived at Fort Johnson with a
letter from Dr. Colden, who was as fond of physical science as he was of
his Toryism. After dispensing courtly hospitality, Johnson furnished him
with a guide to Oswego and Niagara, and a letter to the commandant at
the former place. Kalm’s “Voyage to North America” was translated and
published in London in 1777, and the map accompanying it is of great
interest. After him was named that family of evergreens in which is
found the American laurel, _Kalmia latifolia_, which has been proposed
as the national flower of the United States.

                              CHAPTER VII.

THE OLD FRENCH WAR, or the War of the Austrian Succession, was foolishly
begun in Germany, and foolishly ended in Europe, Asia, and America. The
peace which came without honour settled nothing as regarded the
questions at issue in America. In reality this treaty guaranteed another
American war. Louisburg was again handed over to the French in exchange
for Madras. All prisoners in the three continents were to be released
without ransom, and a return of all conquered territory and property was
agreed to. The balance of power now rested level on its fulcrum, ready
for some fly’s weight to tilt it and cause the scale-pans to bounce.

In what part of the world first? With unspeakable disgust the raw troops
and scarred veterans, and the people generally of the colonies, received
the news. Not a few thought it was time to think of not only fighting
their own battles, but of making their own treaties. The continental or
American spirit, already a spark, was fanned almost to a flame.

Meanwhile, in home politics, New York was steadily advancing in the
pathway that was to merge into the highway of national independence. To
a New England writer, accustomed to the unbridled laudation of his own
State and ancestry as those who led the Teutonic-American colonies in
the struggle for liberty, the doings in the New York Assembly may seem
“teapot-tempest politics.” To those less prejudiced, it is a noble
chapter in the story of freedom, when they see an ultra-Tory British
governor fast relegated to a position of impotence, though backed by the
able Tory, Cadwallader Colden, while the people’s will is manifested in
persistent limitation of the royal prerogative.

This was the state of affairs in May, 1750, when, on the death of Philip
Livingston, Col. William Johnson was appointed to a seat in the
governor’s Executive Council. The Livingstones were sturdy men of
Scottish descent, descended from a Presbyterian minister who had been
banished for non-conformity. Like so many of the founders of America,
the Pilgrim Fathers and most of the chief settlers of Connecticut,
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the Carolinas, and
Georgia, he reinforced his democratic ideas by some years’ residence in
the Dutch Republic, living gladly under the red, white, and blue flag of
the United States of Holland. The Livingstones in America married into
families of Dutch descent, and thereby were still further imbued with
Republican ideas. Robert and Philip had been secretaries of Indian
affairs, and had thus gained great favour and influence over the
Iroquois. Of their descendants, one was a signer of the Declaration of
Independence, and others were officers in the Revolutionary army, while
others are even yet adorning the annals of freedom, progress, and order.

Clinton was, no doubt, very glad to have, in place of a Livingstone, one
who was so loyally devoted to the Crown, and so good a personal friend
as Johnson near him, Johnson, however, was not sworn in and seated until

The state of affairs was growing worse and worse, and Clinton the
foolish had attempted to stay the tide of democracy by having no
Assembly called for two years. When, however, it met on Sept. 4, 1750,
Johnson’s bills for six hundred and eighty-six pounds, for provisions
sent to Oswego, were cheerfully paid; but the vote was so made that the
governor’s claims were, as he thought, invaded. However, for good
reasons, and fearing the loss of trade, he submitted. Could Johnson’s
invaluable services have been acknowledged without also making
recognition of Clinton’s pretensions, the Assembly would have been more
liberal. The remarks and strictures of the biographer and eulogist of
Johnson about the Dutch traders of Albany, and “the love of gain so
characteristic of that nation” (_sic_) seem strange when the same love
of gain was, and is, equally characteristic of Englishman, Yankee,
Scotsman, Huguenot, and Quaker. No one will justify the members of the
New York Colonial Assembly in all their acts, especially those which
were clearly contemptible; but we cannot see that Johnson, Clinton, or
the English loved either lucre or liquor any less than the Albany
Dutchmen. Indeed, it was the well-founded suspicion that Clinton was
using his office largely to recoup his broken fortunes that made the
representatives resist him at every point. Johnson, however, finding
that the Assembly and the governor could never be reconciled, and that
his first bill of two thousand pounds would be likely, under existing
circumstances, to remain unpaid, resigned his office of Superintendent
of Indian Affairs. To his Iroquois friends he announced this step by
sending wampum belts to all the chief fortified towns of the

Neither war nor peace had settled the question of the boundary lines
between the French and English possessions in America. The French
claimed the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys by right of prior discovery by
La Salle and others. The English based their ownership on occupation by
the Iroquois or their vassals, and because the Five Nations were allies
of Great Britain. Both parties now began anew to occupy the land. The
race was westward through the Ohio Valley to the Mississippi. The
starting-points were from tidewater Virginia and from Montreal. Not on
parallel lines, but toward the apex of a triangle, and straight toward
collision, the movement began. The Ohio Company was formed with a grant
of six hundred thousand acres by the English Government, chiefly to
speculators in Virginia. George Washington was one of the first to be
smitten with the fever of speculation, and to the end of his days he
made investments in the Western lands as eagerly as many do now in
Western farm mortgages.

La Gallissonière instructed Celoron de Bienville, one of the four famous
brothers of a remarkable family, to occupy definitely the Ohio Valley in
the name of Louis XIV., King of France. Like a sower going forth to sow,
Bienville went in a canoe with a sack full of leaden plates, depositing
one in the soil at the mouth of every important tributary, so as to
publish to the world that from the source of the Ohio to its mouth, the
country watered by it belonged to France. Up to 1891 several of these
plates have been dug up,—coming thus to resurrection like faint
memories of vanished dreams.

While thus the lines of empire were once more drawn between Celt and
Teuton, the same masters again held the key to the situation,—the
Iroquois. To win these over to French alliance or vassalage, all the
arts of peace were now to be employed by the ablest intellects employing
the strongest forces of religion, education, diplomacy, cunning, and
material gifts. France with her compact military and religious system in
America was a unity. Soldier, priest, and semi-feudal tenant were parts
of one machine moved by one head. With the unity of a phalanx and the
constrictive power of a dragon, she expected to crush to atoms, or at
least coop up between mountains and sea, the English colonies. The
heterogeneous collection of people from north continental and insular
Europe, of many languages and forms of religion, dwelling between the
Merrimac and the Everglades, were held together only by the one tie of
allegiance to the British Crown.

Francis Picquet, priest, soldier, and statesman, saw the necessity of
securing the loyalty of the Six Nations; and receiving the French
Governor’s assent, established himself at La Presentation, on the St.
Lawrence River, between Oswego and Montreal, a fort and a chapel.
Ostensibly his mission was the conversion of the Iroquois. No more
strategic point could have been selected. Whether for peace, war, trade,
voyaging, or education and general influence, the site was supremely
appropriate. When Johnson heard of the man called, according to which
side of the border his name was spoken, “Apostle of the Iroquois” or
“Jesuit of the West,” he was alarmed, especially when he learned that
this lively hornet, Joncaire, was busy in fomenting trouble among the
tribes in the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi. Before long, this
Jean Cœur had succeeded in reviving between the Iroquois and western
tribes and the Catawbas an old feud. Very soon Clinton received word
from Gov. James Glenn, of South Carolina, that the Senecas were on the
war-path and murdering the Catawbas. In this action the Senecas were
repeating one of the numerous southern raids to which their grandfathers
had been addicted, and one of which Col. John Washington, ancestor of
George, assisted to repel. At Johnson’s suggestion, Clinton now invited
all the tribes composing the Confederacy or in alliance with the
Iroquois to meet at the ancient place of treaties,—the ground on which
now stands the new Capitol at Albany,—while Clinton himself called upon
the governors of all the colonies to form a plan of union for uniting
the tribes and resisting French aggression. On the 28th of June, 1751,
the tribes met in Albany, again to renew the covenant first confirmed by
Arendt Van Curler. There were present delegates from Connecticut,
Massachusetts, and South Carolina, and Indians from the Great Lakes,
besides six Catawba chiefs and representatives of the Six Nations.

The first point made by the Iroquois was that Colonel Johnson should be
reappointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs. They begged leave to try
to influence him by sending a string of wampum to him at Mount Johnson.
They despatched a swift footman to his house. A man is a finer animal
than a horse, and, in the long run, swifter and more enduring. They
chose two human soles rather than four horse’s hoofs for their
messenger. Johnson met the wampum-bearer at Schenectady; but when at
Albany, despite the eloquence of Clinton and the Indians, he firmly
declined serving again while his salary depended upon the Assembly. He
now took the oath of office and his seat in the governor’s Council. He
retained this dignity while he lived.

The great council formally opened on the 6th of July, 1751. Besides the
usual eloquence there was much singing, with ceremonial dances and
enjoyment of that aboriginal custom and product,—the pipe and tobacco.
The sucking and actual whiffing of the calumet, the metaphorical burying
of the hatchet and planting of the tree of peace, signified that war was
over between the Southern and Northern Indians. The confederates living
above the not yet made Mason’s and Dixon’s line clasped hands across the
bloody chasm with the Southerners, and peace again reigned from Pilgrim
Land to the Salzburger Germans in Ogelthorpe’s country. The “late
unpleasantness” was past. After the usual drinking of fire-water and
distribution of presents, the council adjourned, and the Indians went

While the Pennsylvania traders were establishing posts on the Ohio,
under British authority, the French were also busy. Early in September,
from a French deserter, Johnson learned the startling news that a great
fleet of canoes manned by twelve hundred Frenchmen and two hundred
Adirondack Indians, had passed Oswego, bound for the Ohio. News also
arrived by a Cayuga chief that at Cadaracqui a large French man-of-war
was being built for the reduction of Oswego. This fort was then in
command of Lieutenant Lindsay, founder of the Scottish settlement at
Cherry Valley.

Johnson was in New York attending to his duties as a member of the
Council, when the harassing news was received. In addition to the
anxiety this caused him, he was selected by Clinton to do what proved to
be a disagreeable task to himself, and in the eyes of the people’s
representative a repulsive one. Indeed it seemed to them to be doing the
governor’s dirty work. When the House sent to the Council an act for
paying several demands upon the colony, it pleased Clinton and the
Council to demand vouchers, and Johnson was sent to the Assembly to
request them. The offended and angry representatives of the people
declared that the demand was extraordinary and unprecedented, and
declined to consider the request until the first of May. The Council,
angry in turn, sent Johnson back with a bill of their own
originating,—in clear violation of right precedent and propriety,
“applying the sum of five hundred pounds for the management of Indian
affairs and for repairing the garrison at Oswego.”

As might be expected, this bill was not allowed even a second reading,
but a motion was at once passed “that it was the great essential and
undoubted right of the representatives of the people of this colony to
begin all bills from raising and disbursing of money,” and that the bill
of the Council should be rejected. In an address to the governor it was
intimated that the one thousand pounds recently voted for entertaining
the Indians at the council at Albany had been used for other purposes
than the public good. After four days of foolish resistance, the
governor, knowing he was unable to make headway when so clearly in the
wrong, passed all the bills. Then, gratifying a personal spite at the
expense of the public, he dissolved the Assembly.

All this was what those who think the story of American liberty was
fought out chiefly in New England would call the “teapot-tempest
politics of the New York Assembly.” Yet here was the great principle
upon which republican government is founded, and for which Holland
revolted against Spain, and the American colonies against England; “our
great example,” as Franklin declared, being the Dutch republic.

The Dutch had, centuries before, beyond the dikes of Holland, developed
and fought for the doctrine of “no taxation without consent;” and
Clinton, Colden, and their coadjutors were clearly in the wrong.
Further, the representatives were right in hinting that Clinton and his
flatterers were too anxious to improve their own fortunes, and to make
the people pay for their needless junketings enjoyed in the name of
public service. Those who read the local history of the Hudson and
Mohawk Valleys know how burdensome to the people was the silly and
costly pageantry of royal governors on their travels.

Johnson, probably with his eyes needfully opened, on reaching his home
after the dissolution of the Assembly, found the outlook for the
ultimate occupation of the mid-continent by the English rather gloomy.
The French held the frontier of New York on its three strategic
lines,—Crown Point, La Presentation, and Niagara. They were now
planning to plant a mission, which should mean a fort and a church, at
Onondaga Lake, near which had perhaps been—if we so interpret the
inscription on the Pompey stone—a Spanish settlement once destroyed by
the Senecas. Even if the stone, inscribed with the symbols and
chronology of Christendom, were that of a captive, it is a mournful but
interesting relic.

When Johnson heard the news, the Jesuits had already succeeded in
winning the consent of the chiefs even at this ancient hearth of the
Iroquois Confederacy. Such a move must be checkmated at once. Despite
the raw and inclement weather of late autumn, and his desire for rest
and reading, Johnson determined on a journey with its attendant
exposure. He set out at once for Onondaga. Summoning the chief men, he
asked them, as a proof of their many professions of friendship, to give
and deed to him the land and water around Onondaga Lake, to the extent
of two miles in every direction from the shores, for which he promised a
handsome present. Unable to resist their friend, the sachems signed the
deed made out by Johnson, who handed over money amounting to three
hundred and fifty pounds, and left for home. Writing to Governor
Clinton, he offered the land to the Government of New York at the price
he had paid. Thus were the designs of the French again foiled.

With the country at peace, and himself released from the responsibility
of Indian affairs, Johnson began to indulge himself more and more in
literary pursuits, the development of the Mohawk Valley, the moral and
intellectual improvement of the Indians, and the social advantage of the
white settlers. He had already a pretty large collection of books from
London in his mansion, but he sent an order, August 20, 1752, to a
London stationer for the “Gentlemen’s Magazine,” the “Monthly Review,”
the latest pamphlets, and “the newspapers regularly, and stitched up.”
He persuaded many of the Mohawks to send their children to the school at
Stockbridge, Mass., founded by John Sergeant in 1741, and served after
his death by America’s greatest intellect, Jonathan Edwards. His uncle,
the admiral, had already given seven hundred pounds to the support of
this school. Johnson’s correspondence was with the Hon. Joseph Dwight,
once Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, who had
married Mr. Sergeant’s widow, and was deeply interested in Indian

In 1753 Rev. Gideon Hawley, who had taught the children of the Mohawks,
Oneidas, and Tuscaroras at Stockbridge, was sent from Boston to
establish a mission school on the Susquehanna River, west of Albany.
Visiting Mount Johnson, the young missionary was received by the host in
person at the gate. He spent a night enjoying the hospitality, and left
with Johnson’s hearty godspeed. Hawley was able to pursue his work
quietly until the breaking out of the war in 1756. After serving as
chaplain to Col. Richard Gridley’s regiment, he spent from 1757 to 1807,
nearly a half-century of his long and useful life, among the Indians at
Mashpee, Mass.

Johnson was also in warm sympathy with the efforts of Dr. Eleazar
Wheelock, who since 1743, when he began with Samson Occum, a Mohegan
Indian, had been steadily instructing Indian youths at Lebanon, Conn.
“Moor’s Indian Charity School,” as then called, was set upon a good
financial basis when in 1776 Occum and Rev. Nathaniel Whitten crossed
the ocean, and in England obtained an endowment of ten thousand pounds;
William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth, being president of the Board of
Trustees. At this school, among the twenty or more Indian boys, Joseph
Brant, sent by Johnson, was educated under Dr. Wheelock. Later the
Wheelock school was transferred to Hanover, N. H., and named after Lord
Dartmouth. On the college seal only, the Indian lads are still seen
coming up to this school instead of attending Hampton in Virginia, or
Carlisle in Pennsylvania. However, ancient history and tradition, after
long abeyance, were revived when, in 1887, a full-blooded Sioux Indian,
Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman, was graduated from Dartmouth’s classic

Various other attempts were made by Johnson, especially during the last
decade of his life, to interest the British authorities in Church and
State in the spiritual improvement of the Indians. The evidences of his
good intentions and generous purposes are seen in his correspondence.
Interesting as they are, however, they bore little fruit, owing to the
outbreak of the Revolution which divided both the red and the white
tribes. The baronet built a church for the Canajoharie Indians, and
supported religious teachers for a while at his own expense. In 1767,
being a man above his sect, he would have had the Indian school, which
grew into Dartmouth College, removed, and established in the Mohawk
Valley. Sectarian influence and ecclesiastical jealousies at Albany
prevented his plan from being carried out. The Valley was thus without a
college, until Union, founded and endowed almost entirely by the
Dutchmen of Schenectady, was established in 1786, free from sectarian
control, as its name implies. Under Eliphalet Nott’s presidency of
sixty-two years, its fame became national, and within its walls have
been educated some of the most useful members of the aboriginal race
called, by accident, Indians.

Admiral Warren died in Dublin, July 29, 1752, of fever; and Johnson
received the news shortly before setting out to attend the Executive
Council in New York, which met in October.

Fortunately for the Commonwealth, Governor Clinton had taken other
advice than that so liberally furnished in the past by the particular
member so obnoxious to the Assembly; and his opening message was
commendably brief, being merely a salutation, which was as briefly and
courteously returned. Now that the Tory firebrand was “out of politics”
for a while, peace once more reigned. An era of good feeling set in, and
harmony was the rule until Clinton’s administration ended. A new Board
of Indian Commissioners was chosen, by a compromise between the governor
and his little parliament. Plans for paying the colonial debt, for
strengthening the frontier, and for establishing a college were all
carried out.

Oswego was the watch-house on the frontier. In the early spring of 1753
the advance guard of a French army left Montreal to take possession of
the Ohio Valley. Descried alike by Iroquois hunters at the rapids of the
St. Lawrence and by the officers at Oswego, the news was communicated to
Johnson by foot-runners with wampum and by horseback-riders with
letters. Thirty canoes with five hundred Indians under Marin were
leading the six thousand Frenchmen determined to hold the domain from
Ontario to the Gulf of Mexico.

Whether troubled the more by the encroachments of the warlike French, or
by the English land-speculators and enterprising farmers who were now
clearing forests and settling on their old hunting-grounds, the Indians
could scarcely tell. Dissatisfied at having lost officially their friend
Johnson, disliking the commissioners, seeing what they considered as
their property, the Ohio, invaded by the French, while the New York
Government seemed to be inert or asleep, they sent a delegation to lay
their complaints before the governor and Council in New York. There they
roundly abused the whole government, and threatened to break the
covenant chain. As matter of fact, the trouble concerning land patents
arose out of transactions settled before Clinton’s time, which could not
at once be remedied in curt Indian fashion. All legal land alienations
in New York were, after the custom originating in Holland, and thence
borrowed by the American colonists and made a national procedure in all
the United States, duly registered; and into these examination must be
made. Both house and governor, however, agreed in choosing Johnson as
the man for the critical hour, and requested him to meet the tribes at
the ancient council-fire at Onondaga. Johnson, hearing that the Iroquois
had broken faith and again attacked the Catawbas in the Carolinas,
hastened matters by summoning one tribe, the Mohawks, to meet him at his
own home.

Again the stone house by the Mohawk became the seat of an Indian
council, and was enveloped in clouds of tobacco smoke. Johnson,
compelling them to drink the cup mingled with upbraiding and kindness,
while bountifully filling their stomachs from his larder, sent them away
in good humour, and most of them burning with loyalty. Besides thus
manifesting his singular power over the Mohawk savages, he met the
representatives of the United Confederacy at Onondaga, September 9. The
result of the ceremonies, the eloquence, the smoke, and the eating was
that the confederates, though sorely puzzled to know what to do between
the French and the English, promised loyalty to the brethren of Corlaer.
They would, however, say nothing satisfactory concerning the Catawbas,
some of whose scalps, and living members reserved for torture, even then
adorned their villages.

Governor Clinton had grown weary of the constant battle which he was,
probably with the stolid ignorance of many men of his time and class,
fighting against the increasing power of popular liberty. He saw it was
vain to resist the spirit which the Dutch, Scots, and French Huguenots
had brought into New York with them, or inherited from their sires, and
he longed for a rest and a sinecure post in England. He liked neither
the New York people nor the climate. When therefore his successor, Sir
Danvers Osborne, arrived on Sunday, October 7, Clinton hailed the day as
one of the happiest of his life. He shortly after sailed for home, to
spend the remainder of his years in a post for which he was better
fitted,—the governorship of Greenwich Hospital. He died in 1761,
fourteen years before the breaking out of the war which his own actions
had strongly tended to precipitate. His son, Sir Henry, led the British
regulars and mercenaries who were bluffed in North Carolina, driven off
at Fort Moultrie, and finally won victory at Long Island. He failed to
relieve Burgoyne, fought the drawn battle at Monmouth, captured
Charleston, dickered with Arnold, left Cornwallis in the lurch, and
returning baffled to England, shed much ink in defending himself against
his critics. Another family of Clintons shed high lustre on the American
name and the Empire State. One added another river parallel to the
Mohawk, flowing past Johnson’s old home, and joining the waters of the
Great Lakes to those of the Hudson and the Atlantic, making the city of
New York the metropolis of the continent.

Sir Danvers Osborne’s career in America was a short tragedy in three
acts. It lasted five days. He came to be ground as powder between the
upper millstone of royal prerogative and the nether disk of popular
rights. He came from an aristocratic and monarchical country, whose
government believed that it was the source of power to the people, to
colonists whose fathers had been educated mostly under a republic, where
it was taught that the people were, under God, the originators of power.
Charged with instructions much more stringent than those given to his
predecessor, he was confronted in the town-hall by the city corporation,
whose spokesman’s opening sentence was that “they would not brook any
infringement of their liberties, civil or religious.” On meeting his
Council for the first time, he was informed that any attempt to enforce
the strict orders given him and to insist upon an indefinite support,
would be permanently resisted. That night the unfortunate servant of the
king took his own life. He committed suicide by hanging himself on his
own garden wall.

De Lancey, the chief-justice, was now called to the difficult post of
governor, and to the personally delicate task of serving King George and
his former associates, whom he had so diligently prodded against
Clinton, Colden, and Johnson. This was especially difficult, when the
Assembly found, in the instructions to Sir Danvers Osborne, how
diligently the late governor and his advisers had slandered and
misrepresented them to the British Government. The good results of a
change in the executive were, however, at once visible, and the Assembly
promptly voted money for the defence of the frontier, for the governor’s
salary, for his arrears of pay as chief-justice, for Indian presents,
for his voyage to Albany, and indeed, for everything reasonable. They
added a complaint against Clinton, and a defence of their conduct to the
Crown and Lords of Trade, which De Lancey sent to London.

The clouds of war which had gathered in the Ohio Valley now broke, and
M. Contrecœur occupied Fort Du Quesne. George Washington began his
career on the soil of the State of Pennsylvania, in which his longest
marches, deepest humiliations, fiercest battles, and most lasting civil
triumphs were won; and on the 4th of July, 1754, honourably surrendered
Fort Necessity. The French drum-beat was now heard from Quebec to
Louisiana. The English were banished behind the Alleghanies, and their
flag from the Ohio Valley.

It was now vitally necessary that the colonies should form a closer
union for defence against French aggression and the inroads of hostile
savages. The Iroquois tribes had been able to unite themselves in a
stable form of federalism. Why could not the thirteen colonies become
confederate, and act with unity of purpose? Besides so great an example
on the soil before them, there was the New England Confederation of
1643, which had been made chiefly by men trained in a federal republic.
Both the Plymouth men and many of the leaders of New England had lived
in the United States of Holland, and under the red, white, and blue
flag. There they had seen in actual operation what strength is derived
from union. _Concordia res parvæ crescunt_ (“By concord little things
become grand”), was the motto of the Union of Utrecht, familiar to all;
but in New York the republican motto _Een-dracht maakt Macht_ (“Union
makes strength”) needed no translation, for its language was the daily
speech of a majority of the people.

It seemed now, at least, eminently proper that the Congress of Colonies
should be in the state settled first by people from a republic, and at
Albany, the ancient place of treaties, and at the spot in English
America where red and white delegates from the north, east, west, and
south can even now assemble without climbing or tunnelling the
Appalachian chain of mountains.

By direction of the Lords of Trade, the governments of all the colonies
were invited to meet at Albany, so that a solemn treaty could be at one
time made with all the Indian tribes, by all the colonies, in the name
of the king.

For treaty-making with the Iroquois, the most powerful of all the Indian
tribes, there was only one place,—Albany. Dinwiddie, of Virginia,
vainly wanted it at Winchester, Va., while Shirley, of Massachusetts,
jealous of New York, and a genuine politician, wished to keep himself
before the voters, and to come after the elections were over. His party
was more than his province or the country. As the Indians had already,
according to orders from England, been notified, the New York Assembly
declined to postpone time or place.

In Albany the streets were cleaned and repaired by order of the City
Council, and the delegates were given a public dinner at the municipal
expense. The Congress met in the City Hall on the 19th of June, 1754,
twenty-five delegates from nine colonies being present; and whether in
personal or in representative dignity formed the most august assembly
which up to this time had ever been held in the Western World. The
colonies were named in the minutes according to their situation from
north to south. All were represented, except New Jersey, the Carolinas,
and Georgia.

The business proper began when Johnson read a paper, which was the
official report of the Board of Commissioners on Indian Affairs, in
which the political situation was exposed. In it propositions were made
to build forts in the Onondaga and Seneca countries, with a missionary
in each place; to forbid the sale of rum, and to expel and keep the
Frenchmen out of the Indian castles. The speech, prepared as the voice
of the Congress, was delivered June 28 to the Indians who were present,
and who had to be urged by the governor to attend. After various
conferences and much speech-making on either side, including an address
by Abraham, a scorching philippic by King Hendrick,—both Mohawk sachems
and brothers,—and the distribution of gifts, the Indians went home
apparently satisfied. To the edification of delegates from some of the
colonies, where Indians were deemed incapable of understanding truth and
honour, they found that Governor De Lancey and Colonel Johnson treated
them as honest men who understood the nature of covenants. Whereas the
laws of Joshua and Moses had been elsewhere applied only too freely to
Indian politics by the elect of Jehovah, the New York authorities really
believed that the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule had a place in
Indian politics.

Other questions of vital interest to the colonies were discussed. On the
fifth day of the session of the Congress, while waiting for the Indians
to assemble, a motion was made and carried unanimously that “a union of
all the colonies” was absolutely necessary for their security and
defence. A committee of six was appointed to prepare plans of union, and
from the ninth day until the end of the session this important matter
was under debate. On the 9th of July the Congress voted “That there be a
union of his Majesty’s several governments on the continent, so that
their councils, treasure, and strength may be employed in due proportion
against their common enemy.” On the 10th of July the plan was adopted,
and ordered to be sent to London for the royal consideration.

How far this Albany plan of union, which looked to a Great Council of
forty-eight members meeting at Philadelphia under a President-general,
resembled or foreshadowed the National Constitution of 1787, we need not
here discuss. Certain it is, that though the exact plan proposed was
rejected, both by the colonies and by Great Britain, the spirit of the
movement lived on. Between the year 1754 and that of 1776 was only the
space of the life of a young man. Between the “Congress”—the word in
this sense was a new coinage, dating from the meeting of colonial
delegates in Albany, after the burning of Schenectady in 1690—in the
State House at Albany and the one in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia,
the time was even less. Certain it is that the assembly of
representatives of the colonies at Albany in 1690 was the first occasion
of the popular use of the word “Congress” as now used, and usually
written with a capital, while that in 1748 made it a word of general
acceptance in the English language. Before that time and meeting it had
other significations not so august; but while these have fallen away,
the other and chief signification in English remains. Further, from this
time forth the “Continental”—that is, the American as distinct from the
British, the independent as discriminated from the transatlantic—idea
grew. In common speech, the continental man was he who was more and more
interested in what all the colonies did in union, and less in what the
king’s ministers were pleased to dictate. More and more after the Albany
Congress Wycliffe’s idea prevailed,—that even King George’s “dominion
was founded in grace” and not on prerogative. More and more the legend
on the coins, “Georgius Rex Dei Gratia,” faded into the nature of a
fairy tale, while the idea grew that the governments derive their
authority from the consent of the governed. To those wedded to the idea
that religion can live only when buttressed by politics, that a church
owes its life to the state, this increase of democratic doctrines was
horrible heresy, portending frightful immorality and floods of vice. A
State without a King, a Church without politically appointed rulers and
the support of public taxation, a coin without the divine name stamped
on it, were, in the eyes of the servants of monarchy, as so many
expressions of atheism. Not so thought the one member of the Albany
Congress who lived to sign the Declaration of Independence and the
National Constitution of 1787,—Benjamin Franklin, who incarnated the
state founded politically by Penn; nor the Quaker, Stephen Hopkins, of
Rhode Island, who lived to put his sign-manual to Jefferson’s immortal
document, July 4, 1776.

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                       THE BATTLE OF LAKE GEORGE.

BY THE MOVEMENTS in Western Pennsylvania, the war had already broken
out, though the diplomatists on the transatlantic side had not yet said
so. By the first week in May, the raids on the northern border began by
the destruction of Hoosic, within ten miles of Fort Massachusetts. The
half-naked or starving refugees reaching Albany furnished a vivid
object-lesson of reality. Under Johnson’s vigilance and activity, the
people in the forts, block-houses, and palisaded villages were kept on
guard night and day. In this work he was ably seconded by Governor De
Lancey. Politics make strange bed-fellows; and the late critic and
opponent, now that he occupied the seat of the person whom he had,
largely out of party spirit, opposed, became a warm friend of his friend
Johnson, the untiring frontiersman.

When in New York, Feb. 28, 1755, Johnson learned of the official
declaration of war, and the sailing from Cork, Ireland, of General
Braddock with one thousand regulars, bound for Alexandria, Va.; and to
this place Johnson with Governor De Lancey made a journey. At the
council held by the five royal governors, expeditions against Nova
Scotia, Crown Point, Niagara, and Fort Du Quesne were planned. Johnson
was again made Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and appointed as
major-general to command the forces for the reduction of Crown Point.

The story of the success of one of these expeditions and the failure of
two of them under Braddock and Shirley, is known to all. We may now
glance at that under Johnson. After a great council held in June,
attended by eleven hundred of all ages and sexes, to the devastation of
Johnson’s larder, King Hendrick and many hundred fighting men promised
to be ready for war. After various delays, the motley army gathered from
the colonies left Albany August 8, 1755, and on the 28th Johnson reached
the Lake of the Holy Sacrament. A true courtier, he changed the name
given by Isaac Jogues, which had superseded the Indian term,
Andiatarocte; and in honour of his sovereign George, and “to ascertain
his undoubted right there,” called the beautiful water by the name it
still bears. The modern fanciful name “Horicon” seems to be nothing more
than a printer’s mistake, glorified by a romancer.

Parkman’s magic pen has drawn the picture of the movements of Dieskau,
the German, and his French and Indian forces opposed to the provincial
army, and has brilliantly described the camp and forces at Lake George,
when, on the morning of Sept. 8, 1755, the Canadians, Indians, and
French, numbering fifteen hundred, being, unknown to the English, only
an hour’s march distant, one thousand men sallied out from the camp to
capture Dieskau and his forces. The spirit of Braddock seemed to be
still in the air; and the men—New England and New York militia—sallied
out jauntily, expecting easy victory, but in reality to what proved “the
bloody morning scout.” They were led by Col. Ephraim Williams—whose
will, creating what is now Williams College, had been made a few days
before at Albany—and by Lieutenant-Colonel Whiting. In three divisions
the little army marched out and soon disappeared from view in the
forest, just before nine o’clock A. M. The two columns, French and
English, were thus approaching each other in a narrow road, like trains
on a single track in a tunnel.

Not knowing what the issue might be, Johnson made preparation for all
risks. He at once ordered trees felled and laid lengthwise. With these
and the wagons, bateaux, and camp equipage, he constructed a rough line
of defence, which faced all along the one side of the camp which an
assaulting party might be reasonably expected to attack,—that is, on
that side of the rough quadrangle which was parallel to the lake. At
that portion fronting the road, he planted three of his heaviest pieces
of cannon, one thirty-two and two eighteen-pounders. Another was posted
a little way round to the left, while five howitzers of smaller calibre,
with the mortars, one of thirteen-inch, and four of smaller calibre,
were stationed to throw shell in the morasses and woods on the flanks.
The superb artillerist, Major William Eyre, with a company of British
sailors, served the guns.

The situation then was as follows: Colonel Williams’s party was marching
southward along the stump-embossed road cut by Johnson’s axemen a few
days before. After advancing two miles he halted for the other divisions
to come up, and then moved in a solid body. With what seems incredible
carelessness, neglecting to send out scouts, they moved on,
Braddock-like, unsuspicious of danger, imagining that the French were
miles away.

On the contrary, Dieskau’s scouts had watched their departure from the
camp, and quickly reported the news to the German baron. He at once
ordered his regulars to halt, and sent the Canadians and Indians into
the forest, three hundred paces ahead, with orders to lie flat on the
ground behind trees, rocks, and bushes, and make no noise or sign until
the regulars had fired, when all were to rise and surround the English.

Here, then, was a horseshoe ambuscade in a swampy spot. It was another
case of “the fatal defile.” The regulars were, to the party approaching
them, invisible, for they lay behind a swell of ground. All was as
silent as the grave when the head of Colonel Williams’s line entered the
trap. Had it not been for the treachery of the Indians, or the warning
signal of the French Iroquois to their kindred, given by the discharge
of a gun,—though it may be possible that this unexpected shot was an
accident,—the English would have been nearly annihilated. But before
the party had passed the calks of the horseshoe at the ends of the
ambuscade, the war-whoop and the countless puffs of smoke and whistling
bullets told the whole story. The silent wilderness at once became hell.

Colonel Williams at once took in the situation, and mounting a rock to
direct his men, ordered them to spread out on the hill to the right. He
was soon shot through the head. Hendrick had fallen at the first fire.
The Americans were rallied by Nathan Whiting, and retreated stubbornly,
contesting the ground rod by rod, and firing from behind trees and rocks
at the Canadians and Indians, who followed the same tactics. Where they
met reinforcements sent out by Johnson, their firing was more steady and

It was near Bloody Pond that Lieutenant Cole and the three hundred men
sent out from camp by Johnson met them, and ably covered their retreat,
so that the wounded were brought in, and the main body reached the camp
in good order about ten o’clock. Le Gardeur, the officer to whom
Washington had surrendered a few months before, commanded the Canadian
Indians in this battle, and was slain. The savages, seeing the English
out of the way for the present, at once fell back to scalp and plunder
the slain Americans. Dieskau ordered them off, refusing to let them stop
and thus lose time. Though obeying, they were angry and insubordinate,
and later in the day sneaked out of the fight, to return like dogs to
their vomit of war. Dieskau ordered the bugles to sound the assembly,
and re-formed his forces, hoping by a rush on Johnson’s camp to capture
it at once. Unfortunately for him, he had to reckon with Indians and
bush-rangers instead of with trained soldiers.

Once inside the camp, the Massachusetts men were ranged on the right,
the Connecticut men on the left, with the New York and New Hampshire men
between. Five hundred troops were posted on the flanks in reserve. Lying
down flat on their stomachs behind the hastily thrown up barricade, they
lay awaiting the enemy, whom they expected at a double-quick pace.

Everything now depended on the steadiness of the militia. The officers
threatened death to all who flinched from the foe. All eyes were bent on
the woods in front, and especially down the road whence they expected to
see the regulars rush on them with levelled bayonets. Could raw
provincials, commanded by a fur-trader and a lawyer, face the veterans
of Europe?

Three long, cold iron noses poked out at them were too much for
Dieskau’s Indians. The black-mouthed cannon, intercepting with their
round circles a charming view of the blue lake ahead, took away the
courage of the bush-rangers, and both reds and whites scattered and took
to the woods. To the exasperation of Dieskau, all his life used to
regular military formations, his great host melted away from his sight
in the undergrowth and behind trees; where, now creeping forward, now
squatting or lying, they began a dropping fire in the front and on the
flanks of the Americans. In traditional European style, the French
regulars, in white uniforms and with glittering bayonets, marched up and
delivered their volleys from double ranks.

Platoon-firing was then the orthodox method of war. The long, thin lines
of battle which now obtain in the field, and which the Americans taught
to Europe, were not then known to men accustomed to the cleared land and
level fields of the Low Countries, and of Europe generally. Soon moving
forward into the clearing, and deploying to double width, the regulars
fired by platoons of three lines,—the first file of men kneeling down,
and the rear, or third file, delivering their volleys over the shoulders
of those of the second line in front. Aiming too high and being too far
off for the effective range of flint-lock smooth-bores, the result of
their general miss was to arouse the spirits of the Americans, even to
gayety. After the first hour their nerves became more steady, and they
aimed with deadly effect, while the irritated and excited veterans fired
too high to do much execution. When the cannon served by the sailors
under Major Eyre began to tear their ranks with round shot and canister,
the great gaps made among the white coats cheered the provincials still
more. Gallantly dressing up, they endeavoured for many minutes to
present an orderly front; but, finally, Dieskau had to break from the
road, and moving to the right in the face of a murderous fire, began the
attack on the three regiments of Colonels Williams, Ruggles, and
Whitcomb. Here for another hour they stood their ground manfully, in the
face of a fire whose rapidity and accuracy were the astonishment of
Dieskau, who bravely led his troops until struck down.

The commanders on either side in this battle were wounded, and had to
retire in favour of others. Johnson, shortly after the first volley of
the French regulars, was struck by a ball in the thigh which made a
painful flesh wound. The ball broke no bones, but was never extracted,
and the lacerated nerves troubled him more or less all his life
thereafter. He retired to his tent, and Gen. Phineas Lyman took command,
cheering his men, and exposing himself with reckless bravery both behind
and outside the barricade. In fact, this battle of Lake George was
Lyman’s battle, and was largely Lyman’s victory.

Dieskau had bravely led his men during several hours, but while giving
an order to his Indians to move farther to the left, he approached so
near the intrenchments that he received, from an American standing
behind a tree, his first wound. Ordering the Chevalier de Montreuil to
take command, and to order retreat if necessary, then to do his best,
and to send men to remove him, Dieskau crawled near a tree and sat with
his back against it. One Canadian sent to remove him was picked off by
an American, and fell across the baron’s wounded knee. The other went
off for assistance; but soon after his disappearance the retreat was
sounded. A renegade Frenchman, on the American side, then approached
within twelve paces of the German baron, and deliberately shot him, the
bullet traversing his hips. Dieskau had received, in all, five wounds.

Blodget, a sutler in Johnson’s army, stood like a war-correspondent on
the hill near by, watching the fighting. He was thus enabled to make a
sketch of the battle, which he published as a cheap print, “with a full
though short history,” some weeks afterward, in Boston. Even the
wagoners, in the intervals between carrying to Surgeon Williams the
wounded who lay on the ground behind the log-house, took their part in
fighting; each probably doing as much execution as the average farmer’s
boy. For, despite the hot fire so long maintained, the number of killed
and wounded on the enemy’s side, except among the French regulars whose
white uniform made them easy targets, was not very great. It was not
easy to hit men ensconced behind trees or stumps, or occasionally rising
in the smoke above the underbrush, while the enemy could, during most of
the time, see only here and there a head. The Mohawks in the camp were
mostly useless, except to keep up yelling while their white brothers
fought beyond the breastworks; and they enjoyed seeing how the pale
faces fought. Nevertheless, about forty of their number lost their lives
during the day in ambuscade and battle.

While this attack of the regulars on the right was progressing, the
French Canadians and the Abenaki Indians boldly attempted to flank the
left of the camp, many of them even going away round toward the lake,
and clustering in a morass where the musketry fire could not well reach
them. Fortunately, however, Johnson had posted a field-piece
advantageously on the extreme left of his front, which now harassed the
squatting Indians, while on those in the marsh the mortars and howitzers
were trained. Although the howitzers split and became useless, the
mortars did well; and some shells skilfully dropped drove the lurking
enemy away, and completely relieved this flank of danger.

Brave as were the Americans behind the rude barricade, they did not
excel the French regulars, who fought until they were nearly
annihilated. It was well into the afternoon when they were deserted by
hundreds of French forest-rangers and Canadian Indians, who, seeing no
hope of winning the day, skulked away to the scene of the morning’s
ambuscade,—the one set to plunder, and the other to scalp the slain.
About four o’clock so many of the white-coated regulars were prone on
the ground and so few in action, all their officers being disabled,
while the fire of the others had slackened, that the Americans began to
get out of their breastworks, and to fight in the woods. This made the
French give way so visibly that the whole of Lyman’s force rushed out on
the enemy with their hatchets and clubbed muskets, pushing them out of
ambush into full retreat. This onset took place between four and five
o’clock P. M., and resulted in completely driving the enemy off the

The fighting was not yet over, for the third battle on this eventful day
was yet to take place. Hearing the distant firing, Colonel Blanchard, of
Fort Lyman, sent out a party of two hundred and fifty men under command
of the brave Captain McGinnis, who, with his Schenectady men, led the
van. Warily approaching the place of the morning’s ambuscade, with
scouts ahead, they succeeded in getting between the piled-up baggage of
the French army and a vidette of five or six men who were keeping a
lookout on a hill. Moving farther up the road, they found a party of
three hundred French and Indians, consisting of those who had plundered
the slain, and of other remnants of the beaten army, who were eating
cold rations out of their packs. They sat along Rocky Brook and the
marshy pond. McGinnis and his men approached stealthily until within
firing distance, and then, after a volley, charged like tigers upon
their prey.

In the fight which ensued the Americans contested against heavy odds;
but although their brave captain was mortally wounded, he directed their
movements till the firing ceased, and the third battle of this eventful
day resulted in victory. Not till the next evening did the scattered
band of Dieskau’s army meet, exhausted and famished, at the place where
they had left their canoes.

The next day the marshy pool, in places reddened with the blood of the
slain, thrown into it to save burial, was given the name—which it ever
afterward kept—of “Bloody Pond.” When the writer saw it, in 1877, the
sunbeams danced merrily on its dimpled face, as the snow-white and
golden pond-lilies were swayed by the morning’s breeze, rippling the
water’s surface, while yet held at anchor beneath. In this threefold
battle the Americans lost most heavily in the “bloody morning scout” at
the ambuscade,—their total being two hundred and twenty killed, and
ninety wounded. The well-plied tomahawks, after the surprise in the
woods, and the poisoned bullets of the French Canadians accounted for
the disproportionate number of the dead over the wounded. Among the
officers were Colonel Williams, Major Ashley, Captains Keys, Porter,
Ingersoll, and twelve others. Captain McGinnis died in the camp two days
afterward. Of the Indians, beside Hendrick, thirty-eight were slain. On
the French side the loss must have been fully four hundred, or probably
one third of those actually engaged.

In this battle farmers and traders prevailed over European troops,
trained woodcraftsmen, and fierce savages. The honours of the command
belong equally to three men. The credit of the defences, and the
excellent disposition of marksmen, artillery, and reserves, belongs to
Johnson, who, unfortunately, was wounded in the hips in the first part
of the battle, and had to leave the field for shelter. The command then
devolved upon Gen. Phineas Lyman, who deserves equal honour with
Johnson. The Connecticut general, cool and alert, displayed the greatest
courage, and was largely influential in securing the final result. To
McGinnis belongs the credit of winning a victory,—the second of the
day, in what may be called the third battle of this eventful 8th of
September. Nevertheless, such are the peculiarities of the military
mind, that Johnson never mentioned Lyman’s name in his official
despatch. For this reason, and because they unjustly suspected cowardice
in Johnson during the battle, and because they saw comparatively little
of him before and after it, withal being sectional and clannish in their
opinions, Johnson was extremely unpopular with the New England soldiers.
Their judgments have mightily influenced the accounts of the threefold
battle of Lake George as found in the writings of New England annalists
and historians.

Johnson was at once rewarded by being made a baronet, with the gift of
five thousand pounds, while Lyman received the ordinary stipend of his
rank,—another ingredient in Johnson’s unpopularity in the Eastern

Three days after, the Iroquois allies waited on Johnson and informed him
that, according to custom, after losing comrades in battle, they must
return home to cheer their people, and protect their castles against the
Abenaki Indians, from whom they feared an attack. It was in vain that
Johnson tried to show them that the campaign had hardly begun, and to
persuade them to alter their purpose. They insisted on going away,
promising, however, to come again soon with fresh zeal.

Dissensions and jealousies between the troops of the various colonies
now broke out. Both the generals commanding, and the new governor,
Hardy, thought that a strong fort should be built to command the
water-way to Canada, by way of Lake George. Though as important for the
defence of New England as of New York, the Eastern officers and men
could not see the need of a fort here, and the work dragged. When
finished, it was called by the courtier, Johnson, Fort William Henry,
after the king’s grandson, and had a notable history. Meanwhile, owing
to remissness of contractors, the petty jealousies of the officers and
militia of five or more colonies, and the overcautiousness of Johnson,
nothing aggressive was done. Late in November, the fort being finished,
the unpopular duty of garrisoning it devolved upon a medley of six
hundred men from the various colonies. The army was disbanded, and the
levies marched home. Johnson resigned his commission, and returned to
Mount Johnson about the middle of December. About ten days later he was
in New York, enjoying, as well as his wound would allow, the parade and
illumination of the city in his honour; while Dieskau languished in the
Schuyler mansion in Albany, waiting for some of his many wounds to heal;
and Lyman received modest honours at home. The patent of Johnson’s
baronetcy was dated Nov. 27, 1755. He invested the four thousand nine
hundred and forty-five pounds eighteen shillings and sixpence which came
into his hands, in three per cent bank annuities.

His coat-of-arms consisted of a heart-shaped shield held and flanked on
either side by an Indian equipped with feathers, medal, quiver, and bow.
On the shield are three fleurs-de-lis; and on the convex band across the
shield, two shells, and between them a smaller heart, on which lies an
open hand supine. Above the shield a hand grasps a dart. The motto is
_Deo Regique Debeo_. The full inscription of the blazon in the language
of heraldry is given in the standard books which treat of the British

                              CHAPTER IX.

THE versatile Johnson, turning from military to civil duties, remained
in New York during the whole of the month of January, 1756. The men then
in control of the British government, with their usual obtuseness, sent
another sailor to do the work of a statesman. Sir Charles Hardy, after
appointing October 2 as a day of public thanksgiving for the victory at
Lake George, celebrated it himself by starting on a visit to Albany. He
proposed to effect such a resumption of active military operations as
would secure the main object of the great expedition,—the capture of
Crown Point. His presence, however, was fruitless, and he returned to
New York, November 26. Then, on the 2d of December, he met his little
Parliament, and told them all about the victory of General Johnson or
Baron Dieskau. The stolid Dutchmen and others were unable, as the Indian
orators would say, “to see it in that light.” They could not do other
than anticipate the verdict of the critical scholarship of this
generation, for they looked upon the whole affair as “a failure
disguised under an incidental success.” Further, instead of hearing that
the English flag waved over Crown Point, and that English cannon guarded
the narrows of Lake Champlain, they were asked to pay for Fort William
Henry and Fort George, both of which were but an ordinary day’s
horseback-ride from Albany. At the same time Sir Charles demanded in
King George’s name a permanent revenue, with which to pay governors,
judges, and the general expenses of the government.

To the first proposition, to pay their share of expense for forts in
which all the colonies were interested, the Assembly at once responded
favourably. To the second they gave a flat refusal, declaring that the
idea of a permanent revenue was in direct opposition to the public
sentiment of the colony.

On the same day on which the Assembly met, Governor Shirley arrived in
New York. Being, by the death of Braddock, the king’s chief military
representative in America, he summoned a congress of colonial governors
to meet in New York December 12. With his usual extraordinary mental
activity, he was full of schemes, one of which was a midwinter campaign
against Ticonderoga. The congress approved of it; but the hard-headed
members of the Assembly, the people generally, and Johnson, did not.
With all admiration for the fussy politician, who planned superbly on
paper, but somehow failed in the field, they had a sincere respect,
which was, however, tempered by excellent common-sense.

As for Shirley and Johnson, they seemed always unable to work
harmoniously together, the latter resenting what he believed to be the
needless interference of the other. Shirley found Johnson more than a
match for him in the rather acrid correspondence conducted in New York
during January. Living but a few rods apart, the liveried coloured
servants of these colonial dignitaries kept their soles warm in carrying
despatches. In jealousy of each other, the two gentlemen were as
incompatible as Siamese twins, their only common ligament being loyalty
to the Crown. Johnson was determined to get and hold his commission from
the Crown, and not be subject to colonial governors or assemblies. He
laid the whole matter before the Lords of Trade, and aided by his
friends at Court, secured a flattering verdict in his favour. In July,
1756, there came to him from his Majesty’s Secretary, Fox, a commission
as Colonel, Agent, and sole Superintendent of all the affairs of the Six
Nations, and other Northern Indians, with an annual salary of six
hundred pounds. By orders from the same august source, the Northern
colonies were prohibited from transacting business with the Indians, so
that the whole matter was settled in Johnson’s hands.

Being now well intrenched in his office and authority, Johnson, with his
usual versatility and vigour, turned from the duties of the desk and
council-room to the activities of the field. The frontiers of New
Hampshire had been harassed during the winter by prowling bands of
savages, but the French now attempted a more ambitious raid. Warned by
Indian runners, who had made the first part of their journey on
snow-shoes from Fort Bull at the Oneida “carry,” he at once sent
ammunition to the garrison of thirty men. On skates from Montreal to
Fort Presentation, and thence on snow-shoes to the Oneida portage, the
party of nearly three hundred Frenchmen, after ten days of gliding and
stepping, appeared before the wooden fort, March 27. Their demand for
surrender was met by a volley, which in return was answered by a charge,
a crushing in of the gate, and a massacre of all but five of the
garrison. Among the military stores destroyed were two tons of powder.
About the same time the ship-carpenters at Oswego became the prey of
raiding Indians from Niagara, who returned with three prisoners and
twelve scalps. Forays were made by Canadian savages, even into Ulster
and Orange Counties, within a day’s horse-ride of New York.

The winter was unusually mild, which caused the utter abandonment of
Shirley’s expedition to Crown Point; while the numerous petty successes
of the French and Indians turned the faces of the vacillating members of
the Iroquois cantons toward Canada as the winning side.

Yet strange as it may seem, the New York Assembly was slow in voting
supplies. The ultra-loyalists who supported Hardy, who was backed by the
king and his council, now vented their maledictions upon the
“foreigners” who made the cosmopolitan population of the province, and
their representatives in the Assembly. All this seems strange to the
average historiographer, especially to the copyist of loyalist or other
writers who rely on such men as Colden, Smith, Jones, Washington Irving,
and the like, for their ideas of Colonial New York and her people. There
was good reason for the stubbornness of the legislators. The fact is,
that the people of the province of New York were mostly descendants of
the sturdy Republicans who had fought under William the Silent. They
believed that the encroachments of monarchy—that is, one-man
power—were more dangerous than the raids of hostile Indians. The Dutch,
Germans, Scots, Irish, Huguenots, were almost a unit in their democratic
ideas. This province, unlike others of the original thirteen, was not
settled by people of aristocratic England, in which a republic, once
begun, had gone to pieces inside of twelve years, but by men long
trained in self-government and in a republic. Even their forms of church
life were as nurseries for the training of men in democratic principles.
To the loyalist historian, Jones, a Presbyterian seems to be a synonym
for rebel, of whatever name or strain of blood. Congregationalists, fed
on the rhetoric and oratory of Forefathers’ Day, find it hard to believe
that the democratic idea in Church and State flourished anywhere outside
of New England. The New York men were determined at all hazards—even
the hazards of savage desolation—to resist any further trenching upon
their rights by King George, or his subservient Parliament, or his
bullying governor.

England had sent over, after Clinton, another illiterate sailor to
enforce a fresh demand,—even the passage of a law for settling a
permanent revenue on a solid foundation; said law to be indefinite and
without limitation of time. The descendants of the Hollanders who had
long ago, even against mighty Spain, settled the principle of no
taxation without consent, and had maintained it in a war of eighty
years, were resolved to fight again the same battle on American soil.
They now set themselves resolutely to resist the demands of the Crown,
and this whether Indians were in Orange County or at Niagara. Despite
the protests of such incorrigible Tories as Smith, Colden, and others in
the Executive Council, the people’s representatives persevered.

It is needless to say that the Assembly gained their point, and that the
greatest and most lasting victory of the people in the long story of
American liberty was won. A few months after, at the autumn session, the
joyful news reached New York that the Crown had virtually repealed the
instructions to Sir Danvers Osborne, which had made the colonists of New
York set themselves in united array of resistance to “their most
gracious sovereign.”

The war had thus far been carried on without profession or declaration.
The diplomatists of London and Versailles had been as polite and full of
smooth words as if profound peace reigned. The English were following
their old trade of piracy, and had captured hundreds of French vessels,
and imprisoned thousands of French sailors. The French, on the other
hand, were doing with England as they did with China in 1885, when they
bombarded cities, treacherously got behind forts in the Pearl River, and
killed thousands of Chinese, while all the time professing to be at
peace. At length the British went through the formality of declaring
war, May 17. On the French side, the necessary parchment, red tape, and
seals were prepared, and the official ink flowed two years after blood
had flowed like water.

Now at last, in Pitt, England had a premier who knew something about the
geography of America; and “geography,” as Von Moltke teaches, “is half
of war.” William Pitt thought the time had come for intelligent and
active operations looking to the conquest of North America by the
English. His first selection of men, however, was not particularly wise
or evident of genius. Listening to the word of Johnson, and others in
New York, he removed Shirley from the chief command, and sent out,
successively, Colonel Webb, General Abercrombie, and Lord Loudon,—all
of them, as it proved, failures.

The three men appointed were alike in their supercilious contempt for
American militia and officers, and were all destined, through their
ignorant pride, to disgust Americans with English ways, and steadily to
determine them toward independence. Abercrombie, on his arrival, at once
began to cast firebrands of discontent among the colonial troops by
nullifying the intelligent and well-laid plans of Shirley, and
promulgating the exasperating order that all regular officers were to be
over those in the colonial service of the same rank. General Winslow
fortunately succeeded in dissuading the Britisher from his madness,
before desertions and threatened resignations became too numerous; but
with the compromise that the imported soldiers should garrison the forts
while the Americans went to the front. In other words, the provincials
were to see and do the severest service. Abercrombie further showed his
obstinacy and ignorance of affairs by billeting ten thousand soldiers on
the citizens of Albany, instead of at once advancing to Oswego. He thus
unwittingly helped to create that sentiment against the outraging of
American homes by the forced presence of soldiers which, later, found
expression for all time in the amendment to the Constitution of the
United States. Abercrombie wasted the whole summer at Schenectady, which
now became the headquarters of the armies. It was determined to build
forts at all the portages between this town and Oswego, as well as at
South Bay, to protect Fort Edward. While the boat-yards along the Mohawk
River were in full activity, and stores were being collected, he
employed his men part of the time in teaching the people of Albany and
Schenectady how to build earthworks in European style, in digging
ditches, and in putting up heavier stockades around the two towns.

One of the good things done by Parliament at this time was the formation
of the Royal American Regiment of four battalions, each a thousand
strong. Of the fifty officers commissioned, nearly one third were
Germans and Swiss. Most of the rank and file were Palatine and
Swiss-Germans in America, who enlisted for three years. None of the
officers could rise above the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and the Earl
of Loudon was appointed first colonel-in-chief. Loudon was succeeded in
1757 by Abercrombie, and in 1758 by Lord Amherst. Until the
Revolutionary War, this cosmopolitan regiment did noble service under
Stanwix, Bouquet, Forbes, Prideaux, Wolfe, and Johnson. From 1757 to
1760 we find one or more battalions of the regiment in active service in
the various parts of New York. The famous Rev. Michael Schlatter, the
organizer of the German Reformed Church in Pennsylvania, was the
regimental chaplain. On the 15th of June, 1756, the forty German
officers who were to raise the recruits arrived, one of the ablest being
Colonel Bouquet. This Swiss officer, with the Germans, at Bushy Run in
Pennsylvania largely retrieved the disasters caused by Braddock’s
defeat, and restored the frontiers of Pennsylvania to comparative safety
and comfort.

While Abercrombie, who was one of those military men whose reliance is
less upon the sword than the spade, was digging ditches in Albany,
Johnson was arranging for a great Indian council at his house on the
Mohawk. He had in view the double purpose of winning the Delawares and
other Pennsylvania tribes from war against the English colonists, and of
inducing all the Northern Indians to join in the expedition against the
French posts on Lake Ontario. Braddock’s defeat had been the signal for
the Delawares, under the direct influence of the French, to break the
peace of more than seventy years, and to scatter fire and blood in
Pennsylvania, from the Monongahela to the Delaware. The solemn treaty of
Penn—which Voltaire, with more wit than truth, declared was “never
sworn to and never broken”—was now a thing of the past. The wampum was
unravelled, and the men with hats and the men with scalp-locks were in
deadly conflict. While the Friends remained at their Philadelphia
firesides, the German and Scotch settlers on the frontier bore the brunt
of savage fury. When public action was taken, it was in the double and
contradictory form of peace-belts of wampum sent by the Friends, and a
declaration of war by Governor Morris. In this mixed state of things it
was hard for Johnson to know what to do. Through his influence the
Iroquois, uncles and masters, had summoned by wampum belts their nephews
and vassals to the great conference which was opened at his house in
February, 1756. To prepare for this, Johnson had made a journey to the
council-fire of the Confederacy at Onondaga, arriving June 15. There he
succeeded in neutralizing in part the work done by the French, and
obtained an important concession. The Iroquois voted to allow a road to
be opened through the very heart of their empire to Oswego, and a fort
to be built at Oswego Falls.

These severe exertions cost Johnson a fit of sickness; but on the 7th of
July he met the Iroquois, Delawares, and Shawanese at his house. After
the usual consumption, on both sides, of wampum, verbosity, and rum, all
the Indians were won over to the English cause. The covenant chain of
peace was renewed, the war-belts were accepted by the sachems, and
medals hung around their necks by Johnson himself. The Delawares had
“their petticoats taken off,”—or, in other words, they were no longer
squaws in the eyes of the Iroquois, but allies, friends, and men.
Without detracting from Johnson’s reputation, it is probable that the
possession by many of the Delawares of the rifles made by the
Pennsylvania Swiss and Germans, which gave them such an advantage over
Dutch and English smooth-bores, had much to do with winning the respect
of the Iroquois.

Through Johnson’s influence two councils were held in Pennsylvania, at
Easton, when the Delawares under their great chief, Teedyuscung, met
delegations of the Iroquois and Governor Denny. Teedyuscung had for his
secretary “the Man of Truth,” Charles Thompson, master of the Friends’
Free School in Philadelphia. The proceedings lasted nine days; Denny by
his tact being able “to put his hand in Teedyuscung’s bosom and draw out
the secret” of his uneasiness. The council was adjourned to Lancaster in
the spring of 1757, when, however, the Delaware chief failed to appear.
Nevertheless peace was obtained on the Pennsylvania borders, the credit
for which was claimed by the Senecas.

To turn now to the field of war, we find that Governor Shirley had
organized a corps of armed boatmen, and had sent them under Colonel
Bradstreet to Oswego. Bradstreet was successful in thus provisioning the
forts with a six months’ store for five thousand men. After his
brilliant exploit he was attacked on his way back, three leagues from
the fort, by De Villiers with eleven hundred men. Despite the sudden
fury of the attack, Bradstreet beat off the enemy with loss, only a
heavy rain preventing his gaining a greater victory. Reaching Albany, he
urged General Abercrombie to march at once to the forts. A large
expedition under Montcalm was already on its way to remove these, the
chief obstacles to their plans of empire. Johnson in person seconded
Bradstreet’s appeal, urging that if Oswego fell, the Iroquois would be
sure to join the French. Abercrombie stupidly refused to move until Lord
Loudon’s arrival, and the golden opportunity was lost.

This slow-minded personage, Lord Loudon, the Scotsman, reached Albany on
the 29th of July; but correct ideas as to the situation percolated into
his brain with difficulty. Indeed, as with Sydney Smith’s proverbial
joke about the Scotchman’s skull, it seemed necessary to perform a
surgical operation in order to show him how needful it was to march at
once to Oswego, notwithstanding that Montcalm with his host was daily

While Loudon was fooling away his time in jealousy of the provincial
militia, and sending a force in the wrong direction at Crown Point,
Montcalm with three thousand troops and plenty of cannon, part of which
had been captured from Braddock, settled himself before Oswego. Of the
three forts garrisoned by Shirley’s and Pepperell’s regiments of New
England men, only one was able to stand a protracted siege. All
assembled in this fort, Ontario, and fought gallantly until Colonel
Mercer was cut in half by a cannon-shot. Then a panic ensued. The one
hundred women in the fort begged that the place should be surrendered,
and the white flag was shortly afterward hoisted. The forts were burned,
and the place left a desolation, in which the priest, Picquet, set up a
lofty cross, and beside it the arms of France. The French were now
masters of Lake Ontario, and of the passages by land and water to the
Ohio, and free to attack the Lake George forts. They found themselves
enriched to the extent of sixteen hundred prisoners, one hundred and
twenty cannon, six ships of war, three hundred boats, three chests of
money, besides a great quantity of provisions and the stores of war. The
destruction instead of the occupation of the forts was a master stroke
of policy in favor of conciliating the Six Nations.

In this affair Montcalm showed the nobility of his nature in protecting,
at the hazard of his life, the prisoners from massacre. When the
Indians, filled with rum, had turned into devils, and were sinking their
hatchets in the brains of the unarmed, Montcalm, as the eyewitness John
Viele of Schenectady on his return testified before Johnson, ordered out
his troops and fired on the brutes. Six of the drunken savages were shot
dead. The murdering ceased at once, and there was no massacre.

Loudon the lazy had finally awaked to the situation, and sent General
Webb with twelve hundred men to reinforce Oswego. At the Oneida portage
Webb heard of the surrender, and hoping to delay the French who were
advancing, as he supposed, on Albany, he had some trees chopped down to
delay their boats. He then hastily retreated to the fort at German
Flats. Johnson, at Albany, heard the news August 20, and under Loudon’s
orders, with two battalions of the Valley militia and a corps of three
hundred Indians, hastened to reinforce Webb. Remaining in camp fifteen
days, until hearing of the removal of the French, he dismissed the
militia and returned home.

So passed another year of failure. John Campbell, Scotsman, otherwise
called Earl of Loudon, had been sent out as the representative of Lord
Halifax and of the Lords of Trade. Having decided to unite all the
colonies under military rule, and force them to support a standing army,
they selected this man, who was strong in the idea of colonial
subordination, but was vacillating, incapable, vain, wasteful, and lazy.
His first winter campaign consisted chiefly in scolding Shirley, and
making the Massachusetts governor the scapegoat for his own
shortcomings; in disgusting the people of New York by billeting his
officers upon them; and in both New York and Boston diligently hastening
the separation of the colonies from Great Britain by making a fool of
himself generally.

With the regulars in winter quarters, the militia dismissed to their
homes, the whole frontier, except in the Lake George region, open and
exposed, five of the Six Nations practically alienated from the English
and already making terms with the French, the outlook was dark.

However, the Mohawks were faithful; and Johnson took heart, believing he
could yet win and hold the Iroquois. Sending his captains, the two
Butlers, and Jellis Fonda to the various castles, and to the fireplace
of the Confederacy at Onondaga, he appointed a great council to meet,
June 10, 1757. Meanwhile he sent the Mohawks out upon the war-path, and
had the satisfaction of hearing of the repulse of the French and the
safe defence of the Fort William Henry which he had built two years
before at Lake George. Major William Eyre, the ordnance officer who had
served the guns so efficiently at the battle of Lake George against
Dieskau’s regulars, was in command of the fort, with four hundred men.
The commander of the American rangers, with Eyre, was John Stark. The
long and dreary winter was nearly over, and Saint Patrick’s Day was at
hand. The French knew as well that the Irish soldiers would be drunk on
the 18th of March, as Washington knew that the Hessians would be unfit
for clear-headed fighting the day after Christmas. Fortunately, through
the thoughtfulness of the future hero of Bennington, his own rangers
were kept sober by enforced total abstinence, and the Irish had the rum
and drunkenness all to themselves. The French force of fifteen hundred
regulars, wood-rangers, and savages came down the lakes on the ice,
dragging, each man, his sledge containing provisions, arms, and various
equipments, among which were three hundred scaling-ladders. They began a
furious attack at sunrise on the 18th, expecting easy victory; but Eyre
used his artillery with such deadly effect that despite four separate
attacks within twenty-four hours, the expedition ended in total failure.
Seized with a panic, the besiegers fled, leaving their sledges and much
valuable property behind, besides their dead.

Johnson first heard of this event in a letter from Colonel Gage,—him
who married an American wife, and afterward occupied Boston with the
redcoats, only to be compelled to leave it at the request of Washington,
his old comrade-in-arms on Braddock’s Field. It is a curious coincidence
that Colonel Gage has unwittingly furnished Yankee Boston with a public
holiday in honour of Ireland’s patron, Saint Patrick,—which the Irish
majority in the Boston City Council first inaugurated in 1890, under the
disguise of “Evacuation Day.” The date which the Frenchmen chose for
their approach to Fort William Henry was the date also on which Gage, in
1775, sailed away to the land whence the Canadians had come in 1757.

Johnson’s tremendous energies now shone forth. He at once summoned the
Mohawk Valley militia, and sent his trusty interpreter, Arent Stevens,
to rouse the Mohawks. The meeting-place was at his house. The news came
on Sunday the 24th; and on Monday, at daylight, the column of twelve
hundred militia and the Indians were on the march which in less than
four days brought them to Fort William Henry.

Finding the enemy gone, Johnson allowed his men two days’ rest, and was
about to start homeward, when hearing that the French meditated a blow
on the frontier village of German Flats, he kept in the saddle all
night, reaching home at four A. M. Fortunately the news was not
confirmed; but he nevertheless ordered the militia to Burnet’s Field,
and made his headquarters there. This energetic action had a good effect
upon the Iroquois who had been invited to the grand council at Fort
Johnson, as his house was now called, and on the 10th of June the
proceedings were duly opened. The result of the ten days’ conference was
that the neutrality of the Senecas, Cayugas, and Onondagas was secured;
while the three other tribes—the Oneidas, Tuscaroras, and Mohawks—were
heartily enlisted to fight for the English against the French.

Summer passed away in Johnson’s despatching Indian parties to Canada; in
Governor Hardy’s returning to the more congenial quarter-deck,
exchanging civil for naval life; in Loudon’s making a grand failure at
Louisburg, as usual blaming the colonial officers and troops for his own
blunders; and in the shameful loss of Fort William Henry through the
cowardice of General Webb.

Johnson had warned Webb of the coming of Montcalm with nearly eight
thousand men, including a body of Indians said to be gathered from
forty-one tribes. On the 1st of August, while holding a council with the
Cherokees at his house, he received news from General Webb that Montcalm
was moving down upon Colonel Monro, who with two thousand men occupied
the fort and adjoining camp. Johnson at once adjourned the council, and
summoning the militia and Mohawks, quickly reached Fort Edward, and
begged to be sent to reinforce Monro. The double-minded Webb at first
consented, and then ordered him back. Within sound of the cannon, Webb
held back his whole force, and sent Monro a note advising him to
surrender. Only when his ammunition was nearly exhausted, his heavy
cannon burst, three hundred of his men killed or wounded, many others
helpless with small-pox, and the outlook hopeless, did Monro surrender.
As usual, the Indians, many of them from tribes utterly unused to any
control, got at the rum-barrels, and were converted into devils, whom
Montcalm in vain endeavoured to control, until after they had butchered
scores of Monro’s unarmed people, including women and children. The fort
and barracks were burned, and on great heaps of the fuel thus obtained
the bodies of the slain were given cremation.

Webb, almost scared out of his wits, would have moved southward to West
Point, but that Lord Howe, who had arrived with reinforcements, calmed
him. Almost as a matter of course, the blame was laid by the British
officers and regulars on the provincial troops. This military bigotry,
and the inveterate prejudice of the regulars against volunteers had a
tremendous effect in making the native-born militia suspect that they
could some day do without the supercilious and conceited king’s
servants. They saw that most of the hard fighting had been done by
militiamen at the front, who, notwithstanding the immense resources of
Great Britain, were not properly supported at the right time. They were
tired of being led to the slaughter by fussy, incompetent, and often
cowardly commanders. They noted, also, that the regulars were mostly
kept in garrison, while the militia were sent to the front, where,
usually in battle with the Indians, the Americans stood their ground,
fighting behind trees, while the handsomely uniformed regulars were
flying to the rear. Further yet, the regulars stationed in the forts in
the Mohawk Valley were so arrogant and conceited as to look—as the
average Englishman is so apt to do—upon the Dutchmen and Germans as a
sort of inferior cattle. The consequence was that they were practically
useless as defenders.

Johnson was so heartily disgusted with the state of affairs that it is
probable that his sickness in October and November was a direct result
of exposure in camp, and distraction of mind. He knew that the French
would now at the first opportunity strike the western frontier. He
therefore wrote to Abercrombie in September, to reinforce the Valley
forts and send scouts and rangers to German Flats. All such warnings,
however, were like “an east wind in an ass’s ears.” Abercrombie and his
men drilled, drank, swore, gambled, dug ditches, and caricatured the
Dutch people in church, and otherwise amused themselves in Albany. At
German Flats the long strain of duty in watch and ward resulted in the
inevitable reaction; and when the danger was greatest and nearest, the
nerves relaxed, the midnight lantern went out, and the sentinel and
people alike slept. The friendly Oneidas informed the Germans, fifteen
days in advance, of the enemy’s movements. A week later, a chief came in
person to warn them; but the people took it as a joke, laughed in his
face, and sent no word to Johnson. Tired of hearing the cry of “wolf,”
they neglected to provide for their sheep. Despite the fort, the
block-houses, and the militia company of one hundred men, the blow fell.
Fortunately the minister and some of his people heeded the friendly
warning of the Oneidas, and the day before the attack, crossed the river
to a place of safety. Those left were infatuated until the last moment.

It was on the morning of Nov. 13, 1757, that the Canadian, Belletre, and
his three hundred white and red savages surrounded the doomed village,
raised the yell, and began the attack. The people were dazed. After some
fitful musketry-firing, the Indians succeeded in setting the houses on
fire, and in tomahawking and scalping the people as they rushed out of
the flames. One of the block-houses was surrendered by the head man of
the village, who asked for quarter. Numbers of the people were killed as
they ran out to the fording-place of the river to escape to the opposite
side, or were shot while in the water. The settlement was totally
destroyed. Of the three hundred people, a sixth were killed and one half
taken prisoners; the remainder escaped, or had already fled to Fort
Herkimer. The abundant live-stock was destroyed or driven off, and the
place left in ashes. All this was done almost under the eyes of the
commander of Fort Herkimer, but a short distance off, across the Mohawk
River. Having a small garrison, he, though fully warned by Oneida
Indians of the coming blow, was unable to send assistance, and perhaps
anticipated an attack on his own post.

The people of Stone Arabia and Cherry Valley were excited, and prepared
to leave these places when the escaped refugees brought the news. Lord
Howe, with his reinforcements, though too late for action, prevented the
depopulation of the settlements.

The sage Lord Loudon heard of this latest disaster while in Albany, and
his conduct was characteristic. Eager to find a victim on whom to vent
his rage and to bear his own and his officers’ shortcomings, he blamed
the Iroquois, and even proposed to make war against them. It was,
probably, only by the active persuasion of Johnson that he was turned
from his madness.

Imagination vainly seeks to picture the results had Loudon, the grand
master of Great Britain’s resources, even begun his folly, and broken
the peace league which Van Curler had made, Schuyler extended, and
Johnson perfected. Had he practically betrayed his country by turning
the whole Indian power of the continent over to the French, the history
of this country would have been vastly different from that we know. Had
Johnson done nothing else than prevent this, he would deserve a high
place among the Makers of America.

                               CHAPTER X.
                        THE HEAVEN-BORN GENERAL.

IT IS HARD for Americans to realize that the French and Indian War was
more costly to Great Britain than was the War of the American
Revolution. As matter of fact, the British Government sent a larger
total of soldiers and sailors, and spent more blood and treasure in
defending the colonies and in wresting North America from the French,
than in endeavouring to coerce the revolted colonies. Though in the
various attempts at the reduction of Canada, no large armies like those
of Burgoyne or Cornwallis were lost by surrender, yet the number of men
slaughtered in siege and battle was greater, and the expeditions being
in the wilderness were much more costly. To throw a bomb into the
Niagara fort was like dropping a globe of silver; to fire canister, like
scattering a Danæan shower of guineas; while every effective bullet
required an outlay of pounds, as well as of shillings and pence.

Before the decision of the long controversy between Latin and Teutonic
civilization in America, at the fall of Quebec, another terrible
disaster, caused largely by British arrogance and contempt of American
experience, remains to be recorded. This time it was to be linked not
with the name of Braddock or Loudon, but with that of Abercrombie.

Under the quickening touch of the master-hand of Pitt, who knew the
topography of America, and had appointed the “young madman” Wolfe to
supersede Loudon, Louisburg, Ticonderoga, and Fort Du Quesne were chosen
as points of attack. Of the three expeditions planned, Abercrombie was
chosen to lead that which was to move to Canada by the great water-way
of Eastern New York.

We need not here repeat the oft-told story of the capture of Louisburg
by Amherst and Wolfe; or that of the fall of Fort Du Quesne, which
Washington named Pittsburg. Tremendous enthusiasm was kindled in the
colonies at the news of these successes. In England, when the stands of
French colours, after being carried through the streets of London and
laid at the feet of King George, were hung up in St. Paul’s Cathedral,
the whole nation took fresh courage, and believed final victory near.
The name of the dashing and spirited Wolfe was on every tongue; though
the other heroes were not forgotten. In New England the names of the
successful British leaders were made monumental in geography. Such
places as Wolfboro, Amherst, Boscawen, and many others on the map,
almost as numerous as the grains shaken from a pepper-box, testify to
popular gratitude and enthusiasm.

A different story is that of Abercrombie’s expedition. For the reduction
of the French fortress on Lake Corlaer, or Champlain, the largest army
ever gathered on the continent was encamped on the shores of Lake
George. Of the sixteen thousand men about three fifths were brilliantly
uniformed British regulars. For the first time the pavonine dress of the
bare-legged Highlanders was seen on large bodies of men on this side of
the Atlantic. Among the American militia officers were Stark, Putnam,
Bradstreet, and Rogers. The following of Sir William Johnson was three
hundred Indians. In over one thousand boats, with banners and music, the
host moved down the lake, making a superb pageant. In the first skirmish
in the woods between Lake George and Ticonderoga, the gallant Lord Howe
was killed. With Howe, fell the real head and leading mind of the
expedition for the capture of Fort Carillon, or Ticonderoga. Without
waiting for his artillery, which, being loaded on rafts, came more
slowly, Abercrombie, on the morning of July 8, ordered an attack on the
French abattis which had been made by Montcalm, two hundred yards in
front of the fort itself.

This movement was against the advice of John Stark, who saw in the
Frenchman’s line of defence a solid breastwork of logs. He knew, also,
that the trees, cut down and laid with their branches outward over the
space of three hundred feet in front of the breastwork, would throw the
attacking platoons and columns out of order. With Braddock-like contempt
for a provincial captain’s advice, Abercrombie, forgetting how the rude
brushwood defence at Lake George had enabled the militia to repulse
Dieskau’s regulars, ignored the hints given by Stark. Taking care to
remain safely at the saw-mills, some distance in the rear, Abercrombie
sent forward his men in four columns.

It was but a few minutes before all formations were hopelessly lost in
the jungle of brushwood. When Highlanders, rangers, British, and Yankees
were well entangled, sheets of fire issued from a line of heads behind
the log breastwork, while the French artillery also played bloody havoc.
Abercrombie, hearing of the initial disaster, left the saw-mills and
made off with himself to the boat-landing; thence, issuing his orders
for attacks on the left, the right, and the centre. For five hours,
without flinching, the victims of military incompetence furnished food
for French powder, and then broke into disorderly retreat. The whole
army followed their commander, and, when at the boats, would have sunk
them in their mad rush, but for the coolness and firmness of Colonel
Bradstreet. It is said that the French found, stuck in the mud, five
hundred pairs of shoes.

The Highlanders—old retainers of the Stuarts, but organized by Pitt to
fight for the Guelphs—lost in this battle one half of their number. The
total loss of the English was nearly two thousand men. Montcalm, the
skilful soldier, covered himself with glory. The Indians under Johnson,
being on the top of a hill, took no part in the fight, though active as

Abercrombie retreated to the site of Fort William Henry at the head of
Lake George. The wildest rumours of the advancing victorious French army
now prevailed at Albany and in the Valley; but Johnson did much to allay
fear and restore confidence by sending out the militia, doubling the
guards, and garrisoning the forts and block-houses. Largely through his
earnest appeals, in person, to Abercrombie, General Stanwix was sent
with a large force to build a spacious fort at the one place where
direct boat navigation between Schenectady and Oswego is interrupted.
This portage of four miles—reduced to one mile by ditching and clearing
out the streams—was between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek, and made a
point of highest strategic importance. The fort—which was built and
named Fort Stanwix—had afterward a notable military history.

From this point Colonel Bradstreet, having obtained by a bare majority
in a council of war permission to attack Fort Frontenac, which for three
years he had longed to do, set out with twenty-seven hundred militia,
eleven hundred of whom were from New York. Johnson, who had sent Capt.
Thomas Butler with forty-two Indians, received from him, under date of
August 28, 1758, the joyful news of Bradstreet’s complete victory,
which, all considered, compensated for the disaster of Abercrombie. It
cleared Lake Ontario of all French shipping, and was in relative
influence and importance fully equal to Perry’s victory on Lake Erie,
over half a century later. None rejoiced more than the sons and
grandsons of the victims of the Schenectady massacre of 1690, which had
been instigated by Frontenac, after whom the fort had been named.

During this year Johnson was unusually active with the Indians, in
holding their loyalty to the British side or in maintaining their
neutrality. Many gatherings were held at his own house. In the great
council held at Easton, Penn., in October, 1758, five hundred Indians
were present, including delegates from all the Six Nations, the
Shawanese, Miamis, and Moheganders. The principal figure was
Teedyuscung, who insisted on his people being treated with the same
dignities accorded to the Iroquois. Indeed, if the explanation of the
Delawares be accepted, they had, in times long before, and at the
earnest request of the Indians both north and south of them, voluntarily
and by solemn treaty assumed a subordinate position as warriors and
refrained from war, in order to preserve peace, trade, and the general
good of the whole community of red men. They claimed, however, that it
was Iroquois overreaching in diplomacy and even downright treachery,
that made them seem to “accept the petticoat” and become “squaws.” It is
certain that Teedyuscung made it the aim of his life to secure for his
people the respect of the Iroquois and their equality with the proudest
of the red men. The Easton council lasted nineteen days, and was
productive of harmony both between the Indians and the whites, and among
the varied tribes themselves. The one who contributed most to this
gratifying success was not Johnson, but the honest German and Moravian,
Christian Post, who from his home in the Wyoming Valley had made a
journey and mission of peace, alone, among the tribes in the Ohio

When Sir Jeffrey Amherst reached America as commander-in-chief of the
British forces, he came at once, with his four regiments at Albany, to
reinforce Abercrombie. He found at Lake George, by the end of May,
twelve thousand New York and New England militia. Johnson at once urged
upon him the importance of capturing Niagara, the port between the two
great lakes. Amherst agreed to the proposal, and warmly seconded it. In
place of the stockade which the French from the time of La Salle had
maintained, there was now a formidable fort. To Sir William Prideaux was
assigned the work of reducing this Western stronghold; and Johnson, in
order to assist him, called a council at Canajoharie to enlist the
Mohawks, Senecas, and other Indians in the expedition. After the usual
eloquence and expenditure of war-belts of wampum, Johnson led into the
field seven hundred warriors, whose painted faces showed they were on
the war-path. The Swegatchie braves also swelled this following, so that
on arriving at Niagara he wrote to William Pitt, Oct. 24, 1760, that his
Indian force numbered nine hundred and forty-three men.

By the 7th of July Prideaux with thirty-two hundred men, including
Johnson’s Indians, began siege operations. On the twelfth day he was
killed in the trenches by the bursting of a shell from a coehorn mortar.
This left the command to Johnson, who renewed operations with greater
vigour, and by the 22d breached the wall sufficiently for assault.

While active in the trenches with hot shot, bombs, and canister, Johnson
did not forget to keep out his scouts and rangers. From them he learned
that the French officer D’Aubrey was advancing to the relief of the
garrison with twelve hundred men whom he had gathered from all the four
French posts on the lakes. Leaving a force to continue the bombardment,
Johnson marched out with infantry and grenadiers, having the Indians on
his flanks, and attacked the advancing French with vigour. In this
battle the Indians fought like genuine soldiers, and threw the French
into disorder. Seeing this, the charge of the regulars and militia was
made with such force and fury that in less than an hour the fight was
over, and a splendid victory for the English was the result.

Returning to camp and trench, Johnson sent Major Harvey to Captain
Pouchot, the French commander, to tell of the defeat of D’Aubrey, and to
advise capitulation, especially while it was possible to restrain the
Indians. Pouchot yielded; and the surrender of the whole force of over
six hundred took place the next morning. Johnson wisely had ready an
escort for the French prisoners, and not one of them lost his scalp or
was rudely treated by the Iroquois. While the women and children were
sent to Montreal, the men were marched by way of Oswego to New York, to
fill English prisons. The manner in which Johnson restrained the savages
was in marked contrast to the butcheries allowed, or only with great
difficulty prevented, by the French under similar circumstances.

Johnson’s victory at Niagara broke the chain of French forts along the
great valleys and water-ways from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to the
delta of the Mississippi. One after another the French deserted the
other forts, except Detroit; and General Stanwix at once occupied them
or their ruins. Leaving Colonel Farquar at Niagara with a garrison of
seven hundred men, Johnson came to Oswego, there meeting General Gage,
who had been appointed to succeed Prideaux. Gage, perhaps irritated that
the provincial fur-trader or “Heaven-born general” had, instead of
himself, won the most brilliant of victories, refused to allow Johnson
to advance and destroy the French forts at La Galette and Oswegatchie,
or Ogdensburg. Finding that Gage, despite his advice and that of
Amherst, meant to do nothing of importance until the next year, Johnson,
after meeting the chief men of the Ottawa and Mississagey Indian tribes,
returned home. He was now the most popular man in the province; while
his name in England was joined with that of his fellow-tradesman, Clive,
as a “Heaven-born general.”

At his home Johnson learned that the French had at last abandoned
Ticonderoga and Crown Point, but by concentrating at the northern end of
Lake Champlain and fortifying their position, blocked the British
advance to Montreal. Amherst was therefore obliged to rest for the
winter; having first rebuilt the great fortresses, constructed Fort
George near the site of old Fort William Henry, and cut a road from the
New York lakes into the heart of New England. Critics of the
over-cautious Amherst say he should have pushed on and helped Wolfe to
conquer Quebec earlier. However, after so many mistakes and disasters
arising from rashness, such a man as Amherst was, perhaps, necessary.
Wolfe, however, succeeded, and on the Plains of Abraham won America for
Teutonic civilization, finding the path of glory a short one to the

Montreal still remained to the French; and when, the winter over, it was
resolved to attack this last stronghold from three points, Amherst with
the main army assembled at Schenectady was to proceed by way of Oswego
down the “ocean river” of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence, General
Murray was to ascend the river from Quebec, while Colonel Haviland was
to advance by way of Lake Champlain. The colonial militia came in
slowly; but by the 12th of June Amherst left Schenectady with twelve
thousand men; while Johnson, arriving at Oswego July 25, led the first
detachment of six hundred Iroquois fighting men. His influence was
however so great that before embarking on Lake Ontario he had, from the
tribes formerly neutral, won over seven hundred more warriors. He also
sent runners with wampum belts to nine tribes of Indians living near
Montreal. These, on his arrival at Fort Levi, at once declared their
neutrality. It was thus from the danger of eight hundred hostile
warriors, familiar with every square rod of land and water, that
Amherst’s army was saved. Passing through the dangerous Lachine Rapids
with the loss of but forty-six men out of his ten thousand, he reached
Montreal. So perfectly was the plan of campaign carried out, that
Amherst and Murray appeared on opposite sides of the city on the same
day. Haldiman soon appeared from the south, and thus the three English
columns became practically one army within twenty-four hours. The city
surrendered on the 8th of September, 1760, and the French power in
America fell.

So fully were the Indians kept in hand by Johnson, that no atrocities
were committed by them, nor the enemy’s people or country in any way
harmed by their presence. In this campaign, in which the talents of
Johnson shone with conspicuous brilliancy, his military career

The only French post of importance now remaining was Detroit. To carry
out the terms of the capitulation, and to plant the red flag with the
double cross in the remote Western posts, Captain Rogers, the celebrated
ranger, was sent westward on the 12th of September. At Presque Isle,
about a month later, Johnson’s deputy, Croghan, and interpreter,
Montour, with a force of Iroquois to serve as scouts, joined him.
Passing safely through the country under the influence of Pontiac,
having an interview with the great sachem on the site of Cleveland, they
reached Detroit, November 29. There, in the presence of hundreds of
Indians, heretofore the allies of France, the garrison marched out and
laid down their arms; the great chief, Pontiac, being one of the
witnesses of the memorable sight.

                              CHAPTER XI.

WITH the change of dominion in North America came a change in the ruler
of Great Britain. King George II. died October, 1760; but this made no
alteration in the relations of Sir William Johnson to the Crown. On the
contrary, his sphere of influence was enlarged by his having charge of
Indian affairs in Canada, and indeed in all the regions north of the St.
Lawrence, in what is now called British America. In October, 1760, a new
commission as Superintendent of Indian Affairs, valid during the king’s
pleasure, was issued and duly received. At the request of General
Amherst, Johnson now made a journey to Detroit to regulate matters, and
settle various questions which had arisen in consequence of a change of

Now that the contest so long, equally or unequally, waged by the two
forces was over, and but one people were masters of the situation, there
was no more balance of power. The Indian had lost his place at the
fulcrum. As a political factor, he was suddenly reduced to an ally only,
with the strong probability of soon becoming first a vassal and then a
cipher. No son of the forest saw this more clearly than Pontiac, who, in
the long line of red men who have vainly fought against destiny, from
King Philip to Tecumseh and from Black Hawk to Sitting Bull, stands
pre-eminent in genius and power as well as in the tragedy of failure.

Johnson made the western journey accompanied by Capt. John Butler, his
secretary and prospective son-in-law Lieut. Guy Johnson, and a
body-guard of Oneida Indians. A long line of boats carried the
provisions and the Indian goods intended for gifts. Johnson’s object was
to learn everything possible about the country recently held under
French dominion, and about the Indians living in it. At Fort Stanwix,
where the portage required several days to be spent in unloading and
reloading on account of land transit, Colonel Eyre reached him with a
letter from General Amherst communicating startling news. Apparently
under the instigation of the Senecas, behind whom was Pontiac, all the
tribes from Nova Scotia to the Illinois were being plied by wampum belts
and messages, and a plot to murder the English garrisons was being
hatched. Owing to the warnings given to the garrisons by Captain
Campbell, the plot was, for the time at least, postponed. Johnson
accordingly called a council at Onondaga, and directly charged the
Senecas with dissimulation. He gave them to understand that only by
their appearance in friendly council at Detroit would his suspicions be
allayed and their own safety secured.

A change in Johnson’s domestic arrangements made about this time
probably still further increased the prestige which he had so long
enjoyed among the red men. His wife Catharine died in 1759, and for a
while he illustrated in his own life the injury to morals which war,
especially when successful, usually causes. He lived with various
mistresses, as tradition avers, but after a year or two of such life
dismissed them for a permanent housekeeper,—Mary Brant, the sister of
Joseph Brant. According to the local traditions of the Valley, Johnson
first met the pretty squaw, when about sixteen years old, at a militia
muster. In jest, she asked an officer to let her ride behind him. He
assented, returning fun for fun. To his surprise she leaped like a
wild-cat upon the space behind the saddle, holding on tightly, with hair
flying and garments flapping, while the excited horse dashed over the
parade-ground. The crowd enjoyed the sight; but the most interested
spectator was Johnson, who, admiring her spirit, resolved to make her
his paramour.

From this time forth Mollie Brant, the handsome squaw, was Johnson’s
companion. Her Indian name was Deyonwadonti, which means “many opposed
to one.” She was a granddaughter of one of the Mohawk chiefs who had
visited London a generation or two before, when “Quider,” or Peter
Schuyler, had shown the King of Great Britain some of his American
allies. Mary Brant was undoubtedly a woman of ability, and with her
Johnson lived happily. She presided over Fort Johnson, and later at
Johnson Hall. She became the mother of a large brood of Johnson’s
“natural” children; and as “the brown Lady Johnson,” white guests and
visitors always treated her with respect. With this new link to bind the
Iroquois to him, the colonel’s influence was deepened far and wide
throughout the Indian Confederacy. To strengthen his ascendancy over the
minds of the Indians, Johnson seemed to hesitate at nothing.

The dangerous journey to Detroit was duly made, and after being waited
on by friendly deputies of the Ottawa Confederacy, the great council was
held on the 19th of September. Here, before the representatives of many
Indian nations from the four points of the compass, he made a great
speech, smoked the pipe of peace in the name of their Great Father the
King, and distributed the presents. The ceremonies wound up with a grand
dinner and ball to the people of Detroit. The return was safely made,
and home was reached October 30.

During the winter of 1761, spent by Johnson in New York in pursuance of
his civil duties, Dr. Cadwallader Colden, the incorrigible Tory, who was
now lieutenant-governor, distinguished himself in further encroaching
upon the liberties of the people, by trying to make the judiciary
dependent on the Crown. Instead of the judges being appointed to hold
office during good behaviour, Colden wanted them to serve at the
pleasure of the king. In other words, he would, by making the king’s
will the term of office, reduce the bench of judges to be the instrument
of the royal prerogative. A lively discussion in the press was carried
on by William Livingston, John Scott, and William Smith, as champions of
the people, who contended vigourously for the principle so long regnant
in the Dutch, and now prominent in the American republic,—the supremacy
of the judiciary. Remembering too well how servile were the English
judges who held office at the pleasure of the Plantagenets, the Stuarts,
and even of Cromwell, the people of New York fought stoutly for their
rights and the republican principle. When Colden desired an increase of
salary for the Boston lawyer who acted as chief-justice, the Assembly
flatly refused to grant it. The salary of the obnoxious Chief Justice
Benjamin Pratt was finally paid out of the royal quit-rents of the
province. Colden wrote to the Board of Trade prophesying the dire
results of the doctrine—embodied in the preamble to the Constitution of
the United States only twenty-six years later—that all authority is
derived from the people. This is the doctrine on which republics are

Largely due to Johnson’s influence was the passing by the Assembly of an
act for the better survey and allotment of lands in the province. At the
English conquest of 1664 the excellent Dutch customs of land survey,
measurement, registry, and allotment had been changed for the tedious
forms of English common law. In consequence, there was much confusion in
regard to claims and boundaries. Large tracts of land had been granted
by the British Government, under letters patent, in which the exact
quantity of land given away was not stated, nor the correct boundaries
named. Further, the popular methods of measurement in vogue—such as by
counting off the steps made by a grown man, or by using horse-reins or
bridles in lieu of a surveyor’s chain—were not calculated to insure
accuracy. Not only were constant trespassings made, both with honest and
dishonest intent, upon the king’s domain,—that is, the lands of the
Indians,—but there were frequent troubles about the division of the
great patents. The lawyers held that when the boundaries were uncertain,
the title was void. The only way to settle the many disputes was to have
all the patents and tracts accurately surveyed by the king’s
surveyor-general, and done in so scientific a manner that his lines
should be final; while the names of the patentees, the size of the
patent, and the year when patented, should be matter of public
knowledge. The good fruits of this piece of legislation were the removal
of much of the irritation felt by the Indians, and the prevention of
further encroachments on the royal lands.

In a word, close approximation was made to the methods followed in the
Republic of Holland for centuries, and established in the New
Netherlands by the first settlers from the Fatherland. After the
Revolution, under the Surveyor-General of the United States, Simeon De
Witt, a Hollander by descent, and familiar with the Dutch methods, this
system, enlarged and improved, became that of the whole nation from the
Atlantic to the Pacific. It is this system, lying at the basis of the
land laws of the United States, which so won the encomium of Daniel
Webster in his great address at Plymouth, when he said that our laws
relating to land had made the American Republic.

Some time afterward, the Mohawks, who had forgotten the covenants of the
past, thereby showing the worthlessness of mere tradition or unsupported
assertions freshly fabricated, claimed that “the great flat,” or large
tract of fertile land near Schenectady, had not been purchased of them,
but had been lent to the Dutch settlers simply as pasture-land. On their
making complaint to Johnson, the documents were called for, and duly
produced by the magistrates of Schenectady. The deed of sale to Van
Curler and his fellow-settlers, made in Fort Orange, July 27, 1661
(“Actum in de fort^{ss} Orangie den 27^{e} July A. 1661”), was first
produced. On it were the signatures or marks of the sachems Cantuquo,
Aiadne, and Sonareetsie, with the totem-signs of the Bear, Tortoise, and
Wolf. Other papers of later date were shown, which set more definite
boundaries to the patent of eighty thousand acres. Johnson declared the
Schenectady men in the right. The Indians, with perfect confidence in
Johnson as arbitrator, went to their bark houses satisfied.

From this time forth until the end of his life, a large part of
Johnson’s time was occupied in the settlement of land disputes between
whites and Indians. Ceasing to be any longer a political factor in the
future development of the continent, the Indian’s course was steadily
downward. Having exhausted the benefit of his service, the British and
colonial governments were both only too ready to ignore the red man’s
real or supposed rights. Steadily the frontiers of civilization were
pushed forward upon the broad and ancient hunting-grounds of the West.
In the old and thickly settled domain of the Iroquois, it was now
scarcely possible for an Indian to chase deer without running into a
fence or coming unexpectedly upon a clearing where the white man stood,
gun in hand, to warn off intruders. The saw-mills of the pale-face
spoiled the primeval forests, choked the trout-streams with sawdust, and
killed the fish, even as his traps and ploughed land drove off the game.
Henceforth, though Johnson’s business with the Indians was greater than
ever before, it was largely matter of laborious detail and settled
routine. Important as was his work to the perfecting of the results
attained by the annulling of French pretensions, it would be monotonous
to tell the whole story. His toil was necessary to the uniformity
desirable in all the king’s dominions, yet it lacked the picturesque
element dominant in his early life, and need not here be set forth. We
may take notice only of the most important of his labours as examiner of
claims, as advocate for the right, and as judge and decider.

After inviting the sachems of the Six Nations to assemble at his house
to hear his report of the Detroit Council, he examined into the famous
Kayaderosseras or Queensborough patent of several hundred thousand acres
granted in 1708. This patent was one of several which the Mohawks
claimed were fraudulently obtained. Johnson heard both sides fully, and
decided that the Indian claim was the correct one, and that the white
man was in the wrong. The result was that the alleged owner gave full
release. In the matter of the lands on the Susquehanna, in Pennsylvania,
but claimed by Connecticut, the Iroquois were so excited that they sent
a delegation of five chiefs to Hartford. These were led by Guy Johnson,
and bore a letter from Sir William. The Connecticut people held
tenaciously to their claim, and were about to settle, to the number of
three hundred families, in the Wyoming Valley. In the speech of the
Onondaga orator at Hartford, after rehearsing the story of the covenant
with Corlaer, and denouncing men like Lydius and Kloch, who fraudulently
obtained the Indians’ land, he declared the Six Nations would resist,
even unto blood, the loss of their Susquehanna lands. Governor Fitch
heartily agreed with the Iroquois, and so actively seconded the royal
order that the proposed settlement was, at least, postponed.

Johnson predicted in a letter to Amherst, March 30, 1763, “the dangerous
consequences which must inevitably attend the settlement of these people
in the Wyoming Valley.” The Susquehanna Company persevered, however, and
at the council held at Fort Stanwix succeeded in getting from some of
the chiefs—after Johnson had been warily approached with bribes to take
the vice-presidency of the company—a title-deed to the lands. Into this
beautiful valley, twenty-one miles long, and now one of the richest and
most lovely in all Pennsylvania, forty families from Connecticut settled
in 1769. The unsleeping vengeance of the Senecas did not find its
opportunity until 1778. Then, led by Butler and his Tories, the awful
massacre was perpetrated which has furnished the poet Campbell with his
mournful theme.

During the great conspiracy and war of Pontiac, Johnson was ceaselessly
active in measures tending to holding the loyalty of the Indians. The
Senecas, always the most wayward, because most easily influenced by the
French, and more susceptible to Indian arguments, at first espoused the
cause of Pontiac. The baronet had no sooner heard of this than he called
a council of all the Six Nations at German Flats, and secured a
tremendous advantage to the cause of civilization, by winning them over
to neutrality. He sent Captain Claus with the same end in view to
Caughnawaga, or the Sault St. Louis. At this place, formerly called La
Prairie, whence had so often issued in the old days, from 1690 and
onward, scalping-parties on the English and Dutch settlements, Claus met
the Caughnawaga, St. Francis, and other tribes of Indians, thus cutting
off another possible contingent for Pontiac. So successful was Claus,
that these Canadian tribes not only sent deputies to dissuade the
Western braves, but also warned them that in case of hostilities they
would fight for the king with their English brethren.

Not knowing what roving bands of Western savages might make sudden
raids, Johnson ordered out the Valley militia, despatched Indian scouts
to Crown Point, built a stockade of palisades around Johnson Hall, and
armed his own tenants and the people of Johnstown. The two stone towers
or block-houses flanking the Hall were mounted with cannon,—the weapons
most objectionable to savages, one of them being a piece captured at
Louisburg, and presented by Admiral Warren. Seeing that the Mohawk
Valley was thus so guarded, the Western braves, though harrying the
frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia, kept out of New York. Indeed it
seems not too much to assert that the influence of Johnson over the
Indians east of Detroit was the chief cause of the failure of Pontiac’s
great plot. Angry with this one man because of his power to thwart their
designs, the followers of Pontiac intended to penetrate to Johnstown and
take his life. Hearing of their purpose, the Mohawks, coming in a great
delegation to their Great Brother, offered to serve as his body-guard.

Pontiac’s attempt to recover this continent to barbarism failed, but the
scattered war continued for years. Half of the warriors of the Seneca
castles were out on the war-path with the Delawares and Shawanese; and
against these Johnson sent out many a war-party from Johnson Hall,
selecting his men from among the most loyal of the Iroquois. These three
tribes were already in possession of a large number of rifles which
Swiss hunters of the chamois and German skilled artisans made at
Lancaster and other places in Pennsylvania. Being thus more effectively
armed and able to move with less ammunition, they were also less
dependent on the white man,—a condition of things which Johnson viewed
with alarm. We find him writing to the Lords of Trade, requesting that
traffic in such deadly weapons should be prohibited. Colonel Bouquet,
the gallant Swiss officer, avenged Braddock’s defeat by his brilliant
victory at Bushy Run; and the Moravian Indians in Pennsylvania were
ruthlessly slaughtered by wild beasts in white skins who wore the
clothes of civilization. All this was part of “Pontiac’s War.”

“War is hell,” as Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman insisted in our own
days; and the barbarities in Johnson’s times seemed to have made devils
of both white and red men. We find Johnson again making himself a trader
in scalps by offering out of his own private pocket fifty dollars apiece
for the heads of the Delaware chieftains. In a word, he continued a
policy becoming obsolete in other colonies. He thus encouraged the
retention by the British Government, long after the Revolution had
broken out, of a custom worthy of Joshua and his Hebrews in Canaan, or
of the pagan Anglo-Saxons in Celtic Britain, but not of Christian
England or of modern America. Was he encouraged to do this by his squaw
wife, Mollie Brant?

Teedyuscung was no more; but his son, Captain Bull, was an active
warrior. The famous Delaware chief had perished in the flames of a house
in which he was lying in a drunken stupor. An incendiary and hostile
savage had been bribed by enemies to do the vile deed. Captain Bull,
while on his way to surprise a white settlement, was himself surprised,
July 26, 1764, by the interpreter, Montour, now become a captain, who
led a band of two hundred Oneidas and Tuscaroras. The Delawares were all
captured and taken by way of Fort Stanwix to Johnson Hall. Those who
were not adopted into the Confederacy found their way into the jails of
New York. Joseph Brant, leading another party of Iroquois into the
country of the head-waters of the Susquehanna, surprised other Delaware
braves, killed their chief, and burned seven villages.

The result of these successes was to cow and terrify the Senecas, who
came to Johnson Hall and made peace. General Gage vigourously pressed
operations against the hostile tribes, and sent Bradstreet westward. As
a reinforcement, Johnson persuaded over five hundred of the Confederate
Iroquois to join Bradstreet. He then went himself to Niagara, arriving
July 8, 1764, to hold a grand council with all the Indians favourable to
the English cause, from Dakota to Hudson Bay, and from Maine to
Kentucky. Besides a treaty of peace with the Hurons, the earth-hunger of
the pale-faces was temporarily satisfied by a cession of land along the
lakes, accompanied with the promise of protection to navigation. The
Senecas also ceded, not for private use, but to the Crown, a strip of
land eight miles wide between Lakes Erie and Ontario, bisected by the
Niagara River. They made a promise of the islands in the river to
Johnson himself, who immediately transferred them to the British
Government. A considerable number of white prisoners were delivered up.
In this policy of possibly mistaken kindness, in which the change of
life to those who had forgotten their old home and friends and had
become habituated to Indian life, was like a resurrection, there were
many incidents like those upon which Cooper has founded his romance of
“The Wept of the Wish-ton-wish.” Johnson’s advertisement to friends of
the captives is one of the pathetic curiosities in the American
journalism of the eighteenth century.

After interviews between Johnson’s agent, Croghan, and Pontiac,
arrangements were made for the amicable dwelling together of the two
races. Johnson had proposed to the Lords of Trade in London that the
territory west of the Ohio River should be forever reserved to the Six
Nations as a hunting-ground. Another great council was held at his house
April 27, at which over nine hundred Indians, including one hundred and
twenty Senecas, the Delaware chiefs Squash-Cutter and Long-Coat, were
present. The various conferences lasted nearly a month, resulting in a
fresh treaty of peace with the Western Indians. They covenanted to allow
the boundary to be made, protect traders, allow the passage of troops,
deliver up murderers to the nearest garrison, and endeavour to win over
the Illinois tribes. Later, Croghan, the agent of Johnson, visited
Detroit, on the way collecting the white captives delivered up, and
meeting the penitent Pontiac, who of his own accord made overtures of
peace and accompanied Croghan. On the 17th of August, at Detroit, he met
the Ottawas, Pottawatamies, and Chippewas, and in one of several
conferences presented Johnson’s road-belt to “open the path of the
English from the rising to the setting sun.” Ten days later, on the
27th, with Pontiac and the tribes of the great Ottawa Confederacy, the
war-hatchet was buried, the tree of peace planted, and the calumet of
peace smoked. Pontiac even gave a promise to visit Johnson at Oswego to
ratify the peace thus made. The road being cleared for the passage of
the troops, Captain Sterling, with one hundred Highlanders from Fort
Pitt, received possession, October 10, of Fort Chartres, and the French
flag was hauled down.

True to his promise, Pontiac met Johnson at Oswego July 23. Amid every
possible accessory of impressive display and ceremony, the sacramental
wampum, the sacred promises of peace and tokens of friendship were
exchanged. Then Pontiac and his braves moved out in their canoes over
Lake Ontario to the west and to obscurity. Henceforth the way of
Teutonic civilization was cleared, and the march to the Pacific began.
As we write in 1891, the centre of population is near Chicago.

In October, 1768, the great council called for the purpose of making a
scientific frontier met at Fort Stanwix. This great concourse, not only
of Indians, but of the governors and other distinguished men of
Pennsylvania and New Jersey, makes one of the historical pictures in the
story of America well worth the artist’s interpretation on canvas.
Johnson, being at this time heartily interested in the welfare of St.
George’s Episcopal Church, built next to the British barracks in
Schenectady, in which he was a frequent worshipper, profited by the
presence and happy mood of so many prominent men. He took up a
collection, and secured sixty-one pounds and ten shillings for the
little stone church on whose spire in Ferry Street still veers the
gilded cock of St. Nicholas, the symbol of vigilance and of the

Of the Six Nations and other tribes, thirty-two hundred individuals were
present to witness the bartering away of their birthright for such
pottage as the pale-faces had to tempt these Esaus of the wilderness.
For ten thousand pounds, unlimited rum, and after due exchange of
eloquence and wampum, they sold to the king the ground now occupied by
Kentucky, Western Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania. Fort Stanwix was
dismantled. The Indians moved out of Eastern New York, and the next year
Daniel Boone led that great emigration of white men from the Southern
Atlantic coast which resulted in the winning of the West. Boone’s was a
movement for the annihilation of savagery, the extinction of Latin, and
the supremacy of Teutonic civilization in North America, parallel to
that rolling westward from New England, New York, and Pennsylvania.

This was the last of the most important meetings and negotiations of
Johnson with the men who claimed by hereditary right to occupy the
continent. Though afterward full of toilsome detail, and busy in
conference, in hearing complaints, and securing the performance of
stipulations, Johnson’s constructive career as Superintendent of Indian
Affairs virtually closed at Fort Stanwix.

                              CHAPTER XII.
                         LIFE AT JOHNSON HALL.

THE last ten years of Johnson’s life were among the busiest of his
career. War matters occupied but a portion of his time. His greater
works were those of peace, his chief idea being the development in
civilization of the region watered by the Mohawk and its tributaries.
The story of his life now concerns itself with the location of settlers;
the education of the Indians; the building of schools, churches, and
colleges; the improvement of land and live-stock; the promotion of
agriculture, and of the arts and comforts of life. In a word, none more
than he carried out the command to replenish the earth and possess it.

Fortune seemed to have no frowns for this one of the chief Makers of
America. Popular with his neighbours, and appreciated on the other side
of the ocean, his rewards were many. Besides the gift of five thousand
pounds accompanying the title of baronet, the king, in June, 1769, made
over to him the famous “royal grant” of sixty-six thousand acres on the
north side of the river between the East and West Canada creeks, the
present town of Little Falls being in the southern centre. This large
piece of territory had been given him by the Mohawks in 1760, as a token
of their gratitude and appreciation, Johnson making return for the gift
in a sum amounting to over twelve thousand dollars. As no private person
could, under the proclamation of 1763, obtain in any way so large a
tract of land, the possession was made sure by being given under the
royal seal and approbation as a token of his services.

It was, however, as early as 1763 that Johnson chose the site on which
to found the village of Johnstown, and to erect Johnson Hall,—as a
letter dated May 8, 1763, to Mr. Samuel Fuller, of Schenectady, the
architect and builder, shows. Like his former house on the Mohawk, this
edifice, so famed in romance and history, still stands, though outwardly
somewhat altered in appearance by the addition of modern roofs,
bay-windows, portico, and verandas. Only one of the two square towers or
houses which flanked the main edifice still remains.

The writer visited the Hall in July, 1890, being pleasantly received by
the present owner and occupant, Mrs. John E. Wells, and allowed to see
the spacious rooms which, upstairs and down, flanked the superb, wide
hall-ways which extend from front to rear doors. The missing block-house
was burned by accident in May, 1866. Between the cellar of the mansion
and those of the block-houses an underground passage formerly existed,
in which my informant often played, until within a few years ago. A
circle of Lombardy poplars planted round the Hall, once formed a
striking feature of the landscape,—for these prim sentinels made a
strange cordon to the Indians and those accustomed only to the American
forest trees. Only four survivors on the east front of the house
remain,—the small arc of a grand circle. Of an old walnut-tree planted
by Johnson himself, and lovingly preserved as an historical relic, only
the vine-covered and flower-adorned trunk was left, in which a squirrel
was nimbly enjoying itself. The Hall faces the east, the ground sloping
to the left. The mansion has been in the possession and occupancy of the
Wells family for over a century.

Passing to the village, a half-mile to the east, I visited the church
built by Johnson. Its walls are of the famous graywacke stone which
underlies the Mohawk Valley, and which is so widely utilized in
edifices. A fire in 1836 that emptied the building of nearly everything,
and left only the walls, was the occasion for rebuilding. When this was
done, in 1838, the site was so changed that the grave of Johnson under
the altar was left outside the new building, and the exact site of it
lost to memory. For several years it may be said that the very spot
where lay the dust of this Maker of America was forgotten. In 1862 the
rector, Rev. Charles H. Kellogg, took measurements, sunk a shaft, and
discovered the brick vault. Only a few fragments of the mahogany coffin
remained,—the leaden coffin enclosing it having been cut up during the
Revolutionary War for making bullets. The skull and a few bones left,
together filled but a quarter of a bushel. It is not stated whether the
bullet which remained in the wound in Johnson’s body when he died was
found; but the dated gold ring was, and is carefully kept. The relics of
once animated earth were enclosed in a hollowed granite block, and
re-deposited with solemn ceremonies by Bishop Horatio Potter, a few feet
east of the church, in a space of the churchyard which has no other
tombs in it. The unmarked mound, eight feet square and six inches high,
barely discoverable by a passerby, had no other decoration than the thin
grass which manages to live between the shade of two buildings. The
action of St. Patrick’s Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons which Johnson
founded—his son being the last Provincial Grand Master of the upper
district of the Province of New York—is still awaited. Either the
Masons, or others who honour Johnson’s memory, should set up a worthy
memorial of the great man who has stamped his name so ineffaceably on
the history of America.

In the neat village itself are many things to remind one of its founder.
The chief hotel is named after the baronet. A number of autograph
letters and relics are in possession of private persons. Documents in
the handwriting of Johnson are in the Masonic Lodge which he founded in
the parlour of Johnson Hall in 1772. The gold ring found in 1836 with
his dust, and inscribed with the date of an important event, and
possibly with the age of his bride, is here. Nor far away, the cradle of
black walnut in which Mollie Brant rocked her children is preserved as a
relic. In an old innkeeper’s book the first entry is that of the great
man’s name, who ordered the first glass of grog. Besides the evidences
of ordinary human life and infirmity, one cannot go very far in the
Mohawk Valley, or in those of the lowlands which hold the tributaries to
the river flowing through it, or in the collateral ones on higher
levels, but the fruits of a rich and busy life abound.

Johnson, though belonging to the Church of England, was willing to help
men who were of the Churches of Holland or of Germany. He assisted all
Christians to have houses of worship,—at Fort Hunter, Canajoharie,
Burnet’s Field, especially; but in other towns and villages tokens of
his presence are to be seen. He helped financially the Lutheran and
Reformed Germans, and the Dutch congregations, and provided the Indians
with missionaries and churches. With Domine Samuel Kirkland, who
laboured among the Iroquois for over forty years, and was the founder of
the town of Kirkland and of Hamilton College, Johnson was on friendly
and sympathetic terms. He greatly honoured the young man’s character,
and appreciated his labours; and the two frequently corresponded. During
one winter while secluded in Cherry Valley, Kirkland was saved from
starvation by the Indians, who gathered ginseng, for which they bought
provisions in Albany. The root having been just discovered on this
continent by a French Jesuit in Vermont, early in the century, already
formed one of the staples of American commerce with China.

While it is absurd to say that Johnson first “discovered” the fertility
of the Mohawk Valley, it is unquestionably true that he greatly
stimulated advance in agriculture. Under his encouragement many of the
Mohawk Indians became happy and prosperous farmers. When the officers
and men under the leadership of Sullivan, the New Hampshire general of
Irish descent, invaded the country of the Six Nations in 1778, they were
amazed at the evidences of Indian thrift, and at the wide areas of
richly cultivated land.

These being the piping times of peace, Johnson built a handsome
summer-house at Broadalbin, in Fulton County, where he entertained
lavishly. Having a healthy interest equal to that of the Englishman in
out-door sports, he also erected on the south bank of the Sacandaga
Creek a lodge, which has given the place the name it still holds,—the
Fish House. The building, which was of wood painted white, with the
doors and mouldings painted green, was comfortably furnished. It was
frequently occupied in summer, often with gay company from New York or
Albany. An orchard, vegetable-garden, well of spring water, sheds for
horses and cattle, with poultry and stock, enabled the lord of Johnson
Hall, with the assistance of his favourite negro slaves from the Manor,
to dispense lavish hospitality to his friends from Albany, Schenectady,
the Valley settlements, or even from Manhattan Island. Coming himself on
such occasions, in his later years, in a coach and six, it was no
infrequent sight to see the like equipages numerous in the grounds of
the Fish House. For days together, gayety and bustle filled the grounds,
while pleasure-parties of both sexes in the boats tempted to their hooks
the finny spoil. Excellent gunning was also provided in autumn for the
gentlemen in the sunken lands and low-lying coves along the Sacandaga,
wild ducks and geese being the chief game. Oftener, however, instead of
visiting Europeans or fashionable society nearer home, the baronet would
be accompanied by his cultured Irish friend and family physician, Dr.
Patrick Daly, and by his favourite musician, Billy. Nor is it likely
that tradition wrongs him in frequently furnishing him with other
room-mates, since chastity was not the shining virtue of Sir William

Simms, the gossipy annalist of Schoharie, who seemed incapable of
writing history or holding himself to a narrative without meandering off
into theology, politics, or preaching, has much to say about Sir William
Johnson. Though gathering a valuable harvest, his sheaves need to be
well threshed out before using. He has set down in sober print much
tittle-tattle which New England historians, as usual when writing about
New York, have only too freely copied.

We see that the household at the Hall and in the quarters was almost as
cosmopolitan as New York itself. Simms tells us that Johnson’s
bouw-master, or head farmer, was an Irishman named Flood. He looked
after the ten or fifteen negro slaves who lived with their families in
cabins on the other side of the Cayudutta Creek, opposite the Hall. They
dressed much like Indians, but wore coats. His private secretary, after
Wraxall, Croghan, and others, was a Mr. Lafferty,—a good lawyer withal,
who attended also to Johnson’s legal business. The family physician,
named Daly, was a companionable and cultivated gentleman. Billy, a dwarf
about thirty years of age, was a master of the violin, and the presiding
genius of the numerous balls given in the Hall when “persons of quality”
were guests, or at the village when the tenantry or other citizens had
their merry-makings. The gardener kept the grounds “as neat as a pin,”
and from May to November smiling with flowers. The butler, Frank, was an
active young German; and the chief body-guard was Pontiac, a sprightly,
well-disposed lad of part Indian blood. He was named after the great
conspirator, and was often with Johnson when away from home. Two of the
waiters,—probably brothers,—named Bartholomew, were short, thick-set
white men. Across the road from the Hall were the blacksmith and the
tailor, who did little work outside of the “royal” or “patroon’s”
household. The numerous progeny and employees of Johnson furnished them
with almost constant occupation. One of the most important characters
was the schoolmaster, Wall, an Irishman with a rich brogue. His
specialty was the teaching of manners and rudiments of English to the
children of the tenantry and Johnson’s half-breed bastards. It may be
well imagined that the training given by Wall was rather to fit his
pupils for proper subordination than to be self-reliant patriots. In
front of the schoolhouse stood the whipping-post and the stocks, for
which truant boys, drunken louts, wife-beaters, and other transgressors,
actual and potential, were supposed to have due respect.

Holidays and out-door merry-makings were frequent. The many-sided lord
of the manor seemed most in his natural element when providing or
participating in the athletic sports, Irish games and frolics with which
he amused Indians and whites, old and young. Himself ever jovial and
fond of fun, he entered into the performances with an enthusiasm that
was magnetic. The greasy pole with a coin or other prize on the top was
set up for the nude Indian children to attempt to climb. The pig with
its tail likewise anointed was set free to be caught by him or her who
could. Tradition tells how, in one case, an old Indian squaw beat every
one in the race, and finally, having caught up a handful of sand, had
literally the grit to hold on and win the race. Sack, hurdle, and
three-legged races were also favourite amusements.

Besides all this out-door activity and healthy occupation, there was
plenty of amusement indoors. The numerous guests who came from all
quarters and at all times made Johnson Hall more like a grand hotel than
the private house of a gentleman. From April, after the ice in the
Mohawk had burst, as it often did, with a sound like cannon, and floated
out to the Hudson and to the sea, and the spring floods were over, until
the autumnal splendours of crimson and gold filled the Valley, the house
rarely lacked guests. Indian chiefs and warriors came at all times; but
in summer the paint and feathers of forest fashions were replaced by
those from beyond sea. The rouge, powder, patches, wigs, perukes, silken
gowns and stockings, silver-buckled shoes, and ruffled cuffs and
shirt-fronts from London, or patterned after Piccadilly prints, filled
the Hall with brilliant colour. With musical instruments, a well-filled
library, and the last new novel on the drawing-room table, the guests
could easily amuse themselves on a rainy day; while in fair weather
saunterings over the grounds of their host, or drives or rides in the
beautiful country around, made the daylight hours fly pleasantly. Then,
in full dress for the evening dinner, the night soon passed in feasting,
drinking, and exchanging news, with chat, gossip, and smoke; and more
than one of the hours of morning arrived before the concourse broke up.

Such a course of life was kept up for years, until the hospitality of
Johnson Hall became a proverb, and its revelry, we must add, passed into
a byword. Despite his constant out-door life and otherwise good habits,
it is more than probable that such luxurious living long persisted in
explains why the baronet never saw his sixtieth year.

In practical farming and in horticulture Johnson took great delight, and
in his intervals of leisure did much, both by personal example and by
neighbourly conference with the farmers, to improve crops and
live-stock. He was a regular correspondent of the Society for the
Promotion of Arts in England, and of the American Philosophical Society
in Philadelphia. Agriculture was one of the themes most often discussed
in his letters. He sent frequently to London for choice varieties of
seeds, and delighted to see how they fared in our climate and soil. Of
horses and other fine stock he was very fond, and to him is due the
credit of the introduction of sheep and blooded stallions. He also
credits himself with first raising hay, and thus stimulating the
development of improved breeds of cattle. While thus on his table lay
the last reviews and best periodical literature of London; while in his
library the European scholars, professors from Harvard and Yale, and
English ladies from London drawing-rooms, would all find books to their
taste, the pursuit of science indoors and out was carried on with ardour
by the lord of the manor himself.

In attendance upon the county fair at Fonda during the summer of 1890,
the writer was struck with the variety and excellence of the live-stock,
as well as with the richness of the agricultural products of Montgomery
County. This county, with Saratoga and others adjoining, has had marked
influence upon the development of the region westward. Not a few of the
fine specimens of horses and cattle are descendants of the denizens of
the Johnson farm of pre-Revolutionary days. Certainly Johnson was one of
the benefactors of the race, who made many blades of grass grow where
none grew before. Not the least of his good offices was in prevailing
upon the British Government to relax the illiberal laws which prevented
the agricultural development of the Mohawk Valley. Much of England’s
troubles with her colonies arose from her determination to keep the
American part of her domain as a close market for exclusively British
products, and thus to compel the Americans to buy only those goods which
were manufactured in England or came from British ports. In thus
attempting to nip in the bud all flowering of the native genius of the
people, she succeeded in hampering, but not wholly repressing, American
manufactures. Johnson, as we have seen, was able to get removed the
restriction against raising wool. Peter Hasenclever, a Palatine German,
who owned land next to Johnson’s royal patent, started an iron foundry,
and though himself failing after long and earnest efforts, unable to
surmount the numberless difficulties, gave a great stimulus to the
development of the iron industry in Northern and Eastern New York.
Philip Schuyler set up a flourishing flax-mill.

Johnson lived to see the fearful results of the determination of the
lucre-loving British lords to force their products upon Americans at all
hazards. He regretted these violations not only of human rights in
general, but of Englishmen’s rights in particular; though not so
outspoken as he might have been. The Americans, while willing to be
customers to the greatest nation of shopkeepers, were resolved not to be
considered as buyers, and victims of monopoly only. Johnson fortunately
died before the covetousness, avarice, and arbitrary thick-headedness of
Great Britain, which had forced the slave-trade, hampered commerce, and
paralyzed foreign commerce and home manufactures, compelled the
colonists to rebuke her pretensions by an appeal to arms.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

WHILE the brown Lady Johnson, Mollie Brant, presided over the mansion,
and her dusky brood attended the manor school, the daughters of Johnson
and of Catharine Wisenberg were trained under the care of a governess
who made them familiar with the social graces of London and the polite
accomplishments and standard literature of England. Mary Brant, though
not only an Indian, but a Mohawk Indian in spirit, was to her dying day,
in the old English and Hebrew sense of the word, a virtuous woman. She
had the virile qualities of worth, excellence, and abilities, and not
only managed her household to the satisfaction of her lord, but kept
herself well informed and interested in the two worlds in which lived
the people of the Long House and those of Christendom. More than one
English lady visiting at the Hall was surprised to find this Iroquois
woman so cultivated, refined, and alert, not only with womanly
intuition, but equipped with information as to the life and thoughts in
which they and their husbands moved.

Johnson was happy in the careers of his children born in wedlock, so far
as he lived to witness them. His first-born child, John, was the
especial pride of his father, though he never won the regard of his
neighbours. He had the misfortune to be the son of a great man, and to
be constantly compared with his father. He was educated under Domine
Vrooman and other clergymen of the Dutch Reformed and Anglican Churches.
He often accompanied his father on his journeys, notably the adventurous
one to Detroit in 1761. Later he was placed in command of three hundred
Iroquois; but these unfortunately deserted their commander, who had not
the power, like his father, to sweeten the rigours of discipline by
magnetic personality and system. He had considerable experience in the
field with the militia, but never won much personal popularity. Visiting
England to complete his education, he was presented at court, and
knighted at St. James’s, Nov. 22, 1765. He later became a member of the
Assembly, being pitted against Colonel Schuyler, who rightly or
wrongly—more probably the latter—imagined the father to be prodding
the son or using him for a cat’s-paw.

On the 29th of June, 1773, Sir John was married to Miss Mary Watts, of
New York City, the wedding being at the bride’s house. The bridal tour
was a trip up the Hudson River when Nature was dressed in her glorious
summer robes. A stay at Albany marked by brilliant social attentions,
and the ride up the loveliest of valleys, completed the journey. Johnson
Hall was then embosomed in a wealth of foliage and flowers, and bright
with the pageantry which manor life could on special occasions display.
Sir John, on the death of his father, succeeded to an estate which, with
the exception of that of the founder of Pennsylvania, was probably the
largest ever held by a private individual in America. At the request of
the Indians to Johnson, and of the latter to the king, Col. Guy Johnson
was made Superintendent of Indian Affairs, assisted by Colonel Claus;
but Sir John succeeded to the office of major-general of the militia. To
tell the story of his Tory career in the Revolution is no part of our
plan. “The Life and Misfortunes and Military Career of Brig.-Gen. Sir
John Johnson, Baronet,” has been ably written by Gen. J. Watts De
Peyster. In this book a list of Sir William Johnson’s descendants are

Johnson usually called Anne, his first daughter, Nancy, and often wrote
to her while away from home. A son of one of the Palatine Germans,
Daniel Claus, a noted Indian fighter, captain of militia, and a man of
considerable culture in German, English, and the Iroquois languages, and
withal a favourite of Sir William, fell in love with Miss Nancy, and
married her in July, 1762. The nuptials were celebrated at Johnson Hall
with great rejoicing. Claus assisted his father-in-law and Joseph Brant
in translating and preparing the Book of Common Prayer in the Mohawk
language. In thus following up and completing the work of Domine
Barnhardus Freeman, of Schenectady, a manual of devotion was prepared
for the Mohawks which was in use until near the second half of the
present century. As colonel of militia, Claus saw long and varied
service in New York, Canada, and the West.

Mary Johnson, the baronet’s second daughter, married in March, 1763, her
cousin Guy, a nephew of Sir William and his private secretary. Guy
Johnson was later an active member of the Assembly from Tryon County,
and was always a helpful assistant of his uncle. Their daughter Mary
became wife of Sir Colin Campbell, and mother of Gen. Sir Guy Campbell.
Guy Johnson’s career in devastating the valleys of New York during the
Revolution is too well known to need repetition here.

The absorption of Johnson’s mind in his multifarious labours and in the
interests of the community in which he lived, scarcely gave him time to
study carefully the great political movements leading to the Revolution.
The time had now come when the continued folly of the king and
Parliament acting as irritant and stimulant upon people in whom a love
of freedom was inborn, was to result in independence. The long training
in the border wars had educated a generation of soldiers who did not
fear to meet either the mercenaries or the regulars of Great Britain,
while also well able to profit by the mistakes of the king’s agents, and
to organize government for themselves. On the civil side, the people of
New England, led and trained by Congregational clergymen rather than by
lawyers, were educated into the idea of resistance to the king and
Parliament on grounds of abstract right. In the Middle and Southern
States regularly educated publicists and lawyers trained in England were
much more numerous. The continued invasion by the king of their rights
as Englishmen was their theme; and resistance was made, and final
victory expected, not by revolution, but through the right application
of the law and tradition which had been so often violated. In many of
the colonies a well-grounded fear lest a politically organized church
should be forced upon them, as well as hatred of England’s avaricious
policy of holding the colonies as a close market, had also their
influence in bringing about separation.

Johnson, too busily occupied to follow every step of the movements, yet
sympathized with the people, even while sincerely loyal to the Crown. As
member of the Council in New York City, he witnessed not only the
frequent turbulent expressions of the populace, but also saw from the
firm temper of the Assembly signs of the coming danger. While John
Dickinson, of Pennsylvania, and Samuel Adams, of Massachusetts, were
discussing the political situation and the principles at stake, the
people of New York showed by their acts their constant determination to
resist all invasion of their rights by either the king or his agent. The
governor, Sir Henry Moore, who dissolved the Assembly in 1769, found out
quickly that the members were re-elected by overwhelming majorities. His
sudden death called to the office of acting governor, for the third
time, Dr. Cadwallader Colden.

In the following March the political sky, already full of the portents
of a coming storm, gathered a deeper blackness when the fact became
known that the House of Commons in London had refused to receive the
representative of the New York Assembly. In spite of prophetic warnings
and wise cautions in Parliament, the determination to make merchandise
of the colonies stupefied and debauched the conscience of the average
lord and commoner of commercial England, as the opium question in China
stupefies and debauches it yet. The government was as much determined on
a war with the American colonies, and for much the same purpose, as so
many of Great Britain’s later wars have been waged,—for the sake of
maintaining trade. Of the twenty-five or thirty wars, even during
Victoria’s reign, the majority have been for the purpose of forcing
trade and making money. In a word, the war of King George and his
Parliament in 1775 against the colonies was a shopkeeper’s war for a
market. “British interests” then, as now, meant trade and profits.
Johnson felt the injustice of the British Government’s acts when he
wrote in 1769: “Whatever reason or justice there may be in the late
steps, there is a probability of their being carried farther than a good
man can wish.” Nevertheless, Sir William was wisely non-committal on the
burning question.

The Sons of Liberty in New York became active and turbulent, and made
the lives of ultra-loyalists, like Colden, a burden. The royal troops
had been by his orders summoned to New York City, after he had been
driven to take refuge in the fort on the outbreak of violence when the
stamps arrived from England. These soldiers were now the targets of
scorn, especially after the Assembly had refused indemnity to Colden,
who kept on recommending them to supplicate the paternal tenderness of
their gracious sovereign George. After concurring in the spirited
resolutions of the Legislatures of Virginia and South Carolina, the
Assembly had also defeated a cunning scheme to win from them a vote of
money to support the king’s military forces.

The hatred between the soldiers and the Sons of Liberty burst into flame
at the battle of Golden Hill, Jan. 18, 1770, in New York City, when the
first blood of the American Revolution was spilled. The Sons of Liberty
had erected an emblem of their freedom and hereditary rights. The
liberty-pole, and their meetings with speeches under it, were survivals
of the old custom of their Teutonic ancestors, who met in the folk moot
under the chosen oak-trees in the forests of Germany before Christendom
began. The liberty-pole with its spars was obnoxious to the redcoats,
who with saw and gunpowder tried to destroy it. The citizens resisted,
but the unarmed and unorganized mob broke before the charge of armed men
with bayonets. Having finally succeeded in sawing the pole into
kindling-wood, the military piled the fragments before the doors of the
tavern where the Sons of Liberty met.

The citizens were now thoroughly roused, and on the 18th a riot broke
out, in which clubs and cutlasses were used, and in which the soldiers
were worsted; though several citizens were wounded, and one of them, a
sailor, died. When at Golden Hill, or John Street, between Cliff Street
and Burling Slip, the riot was stopped by the arrival of British
officers, who ordered their men back to camp. Conspicuous in the affrays
of next day were the sailors, who in revenge for the death of their
comrade clubbed the soldiers and drove them out of the streets into
their barracks. On the 5th of February a new liberty-pole was erected on
ground purchased for the purpose, and it remained until 1776.

The Sons of Liberty succeeded in carrying out the non-importation act so
vigourously that the market became empty of goods used as presents to
the Indians. Johnson was in danger of becoming seriously embarrassed.
The Cherokees, who in January, 1770, intended to go to war with the
tribes in the West and Southwest, wanted the Six Nations to join them.
These at once resolved first to ask the advice of Johnson, who appointed
a council at German Flats, hoping to win the Cherokees away from their
purpose. Johnson was obliged to write to the chairman of the Sons of
Liberty to get permission to receive or purchase a package invoiced to
him which they held in bond, promising to use the goods only for the
Indians. The request was cheerfully granted, and the goods delivered.

In company with Dr. Shuckburgh, who composed or introduced the tune of
“Yankee Doodle,” Johnson met the Indians, half famished as they were on
account of the failure of crops through caterpillars. The result of the
council was that the Cherokees gave up their proposed war, and the
treaty of Fort Stanwix was ratified in detail.

Perhaps it was from this incident that the New Yorkers prepared to dress
themselves as Mohawk Indians, and tumble the tea into the waters of the
East River, when it should come. On the 9th of July, hearing that all
taxes, except upon tea, had been removed, the Committee of One Hundred
agreed to receive all imports except tea. Johnson’s storehouses were now
well stocked with imported Indian goods. Indian trade, which had come
almost to a standstill, was resumed, much to the joy of all the Six
Nations. The red men could not comprehend the white man’s politics, or
realize that the love of money was the root of the evil of war also.
They could not understand that titles of nobility, commissions in the
army, stars, garters, decorations, and things most noble were peddled by
government and purchased by money.

So rebellious a spirit as that manifested in New York must be rebuked,
and so the king and his counsellors chose as the proper man to curb it,
the infamous William Tryon. This Irishman had been an army officer, but
through his wife’s influence obtained the post of lieutenant-governor of
North Carolina in 1764; becoming governor in 1765. He was the fit tool
of the kind of a king and parliament that ruled England at this time.
Living while at Newbern, N. C., in amazing luxury, at the cost of the
oppressively taxed colonists, he delighted in scorning their
remonstrances and in crushing out their liberties. Goaded to
desperation, the Sons of Liberty, after five years of vain petition for
redress, met to the number of nearly two thousand on the banks of the
Alamance River. Tryon marched out from his “palace” with an army of one
thousand regular British troops, infantry, cavalry, and artillery, to
suppress them. On the 15th of May, 1771, the Regulators, or Sons of
Liberty, sent Tryon a message offering to lay down their arms if he
would redress their grievances. Tryon advanced with the idea of
scattering the patriots before the reinforcements coming from all parts
of the province should encourage the Regulators. When within a hundred
yards of the patriot ranks, his officers read the riot act. It was met
by shouts of defiance. Tryon then ordered his men to fire. They
hesitated. Rising in his stirrups, Tryon in a rage cried out, “Fire—on
them, or on me,” at the same time discharging his pistol and felling a
victim. In the two hours’ musketry battle which ensued, the ammunition
of the poorly armed patriots being soon exhausted, the decisive victory
of Tryon was obtained when the artillery was ordered up, and the unequal
contest decided by rounds of grape and canister. Twenty of the Sons of
Liberty were left dead on the field, the wounded being carried off. Of
Tryon’s men, sixty were killed or wounded.

Although practically unknown to popular American history, this was the
first battle of the American Revolution. For a few weeks Tryon held high
revel of execution and devastation in North Carolina, and was then, in
the height of his glory, transferred to New York; the Earl of Dunmore,
who from Oct. 18, 1770, had served for a few months on Manhattan Island,
being ordered to Virginia.

Tryon, who reached New York July 8, 1772, soon became known among the
New York Sons of Liberty as “Bloody Billy.” Before the Assembly he made
a conciliatory speech attributing his butchery in North Carolina to the
special favour of a kind Providence. With consummate address and
flattery, and the adroit distribution of ministerial patronage, he
managed to hoodwink the Assembly. Backed by the order of the British
Government that his salary should be paid out of the revenue, and
becoming thus independent of the colony, he was well fitted to be the
king’s tool. To the amazement of the patriots like Schuyler, and of
other colonies, the Legislature of New York seemed to have reversed its
former record, and to have become hopelessly subservient.

Local affairs were meanwhile well attended to. Early in January, 1772,
Sir William Johnson, who had long believed with Philip Schuyler that a
division of Albany County should be made, forwarded a petition from the
people in all parts of the county. After considerable discussion a bill
was passed by which the old county of Albany was divided into three
counties,—Albany, Tryon, and Charlotte. All the civil officers, except
one who had been nominated by Johnson, were appointed, and the
county-seat of Tryon County was fixed by the Government at Johnstown. At
Johnson’s suggestion, Tryon County was divided into the townships of
Mohawk, Stone Arabia, Canajoharie, Kingsland, and German Flats.

Johnstown now became the centre of bustle and activity. New roads were
laid out, and a jail and county court-house built; while new settlers
came in by scores to select lots and build houses. In the midst of his
pressing local occupations, Johnson, who had been elected a
trustee,—his name standing first on the list of Queen’s, now Rutgers
College, chartered Nov. 10, 1766,—received an invitation to visit New
Brunswick, N. J. He was obliged to decline to attend. The college went
into operation in 1771; but its sessions were soon interrupted, both
professors and students entering the patriot army when the war broke

Remaining at home, he entertained at the Hall, in July, Governor Tryon
and his wife. Tryon, as avaricious as he was murderous, had come into
the Valley under pretence of holding a council with the Indians to
redress their grievances against Klock and others. In reality his
purpose was speculation in land; and the use of his office, like that of
so many royal governors of New York, was to swell his private purse,
while taking advantage of his high position. Although the Indians
rehearsed their troubles, and Tryon listened, they obtained from the
governor, who was too busy with his money-making schemes, no
satisfaction. After reviewing the militia at Johnstown, Burnet’s Field,
and German Flats, fourteen hundred men in all, and purchasing a large
tract of land north of the Mohawk, Tryon returned to New York. His name
was not suffered to remain on the map of New York; for Tryon County
before many years became one of the first of the nineteen counties in
the United States named after General Montgomery. Shortly afterward
Tryon appointed Johnson major-general of the Northern Department.

At a council with the chief sachems of the Confederacy of the Six
Nations held at his house, at the order of Lord Dartmouth, Johnson
obtained from them their assent to the purchase of twenty-three thousand
acres north of the Ohio, by the Ohio Company. After telling the chiefs
that as a mark of the king’s friendship to them Fort Pitt was to be
demolished, the sachems agreed to the settlement of what grew to be the
State of Ohio.

Just at the time when Sir William Johnson was in the midst of the most
varied activities, and was the most popular and influential man in the
whole province of New York, his physical strength failed. For several
years the inroads upon his constitution had warned him to seek the rest
from labours and from social indulgence which seemed impossible to him.
For the last ten years before his death he had suffered at intervals
from dysentery, which often kept him an invalid in bed for weeks. During
these periods of weakness the unextracted bullet received at Lake George
in 1755 irritated his nerves, and made his wound very painful. Even when
recovered from the attacks of the disease which threatened to be
chronic, active exercise was frequently impossible for a long time
afterward. This suffering, though so grievous to himself, was
providentially turned to the advantage of millions. It was the occasion
of the revelation to the world of the health-giving waters of Saratoga
Springs. With a touching solicitude for his personal good, the Mohawks
had called his attention to the remedial value of the High Rock Spring,
to which they always turned aside in their wanderings or hunts eastward.
On the 22d of August, 1767, Sir William left the Hall, and was borne to
these springs by his devoted Mohawks. He travelled in a boat to
Schenectady, and on their shoulders in a litter to Saratoga. A halt over
night was made at Ballston Lake in the cabin of an Irishman named
Michael McDonald. Reaching the springs by way of the Indian trail next
day, his faithful bearers built a bark hut, and tenderly cared for him
during the five days he was able to spend there,—for pressing letters
soon called him home. The Adirondack air charged with ozone, and the
cleansing and healing waters greatly benefited him. After his return,
when this fact was known, others followed his example. Known for ages to
the aborigines, its line of fame went out through all the earth; and
gradually the evolution of the most famous watering-place in America
followed. It is noteworthy that a camp of the red men is still found at
Saratoga Springs.

Stone, in his biography of Johnson, calls attention to the coincidence
that while Johnson was recovering at Saratoga, Dieskau was dying at
Suresnes near Paris. Both had been leaders of the opposing forces, and
both had been wounded at Lake George twelve years before. Arriving on
the 4th of September, he was in time to hail his knighted son, John,
just home from Europe. Had the vital nerve of an electric cable thrilled
under the ocean, Johnson would have heard, four days later, of the
decease of his illustrious antagonist.

Other trips for the sake of health were made to the sea-shore at New
London, Conn.; but owing to the fact of his being so often overworked,
he was frequently prostrated in summer by his old enemy. When Cresap’s
war broke out in 1774, he was almost discouraged. Chief Logan’s
relatives—the Delaware chief Bald Eagle, and the Shawanese sachem
Silver Heels—had been murdered by white men, who were too eager to
improve red men off the face of the earth. The treaty of Fort Stanwix
had not only been trampled under foot by the whites, but the murderers
of Silver Heels had, perhaps unwittingly, but certainly in accordance
with Indian interpretation, committed a symbolical act which was not
private, but national and declarative. It meant war. After the white
murderer had shot Bald Eagle, who was alone on the river, he scalped the
chief, and propping his body upright in his canoe, sent him adrift down
the stream. No note of a congress or decree of a royal court could be to
the red man more distinctly a declaration of war than was the bloody
freight which this boat bore to the Indians.

To the Six Nations the murder of Logan, their kinsman, was a direct
insult and irritating challenge; yet instead of rushing to massacre,
they came to their friend Johnson to ask his counsel. For weeks before
the congress which he called to meet at his house, July 7, 1774, he was
in constant correspondence with his agents in the Ohio and Illinois
country. As fast as the chiefs arrived, he persuaded them privately to
refrain from war, and to trust in him to obtain justice. Six hundred
Indians, many of them from great distances, were impatiently waiting at
Johnson Hall while the war raged on the borders of Virginia. Though
Johnson was sick with dysentery, he took no thought of self. From a
sick-bed he rose to attend the council. After preliminaries, the meeting
on the 9th of July, 1774, was addressed by an eloquent Seneca chieftain.
Fortunately, God’s day of rest intervened; but on Monday—the last of
Johnson’s days on earth—his answer was given. For two hours, on a hot
day and in the glare of a July sun, with all his old-time fire of
eloquence, this friend of the red man spoke in grave discourse. His
diction was fiery, rhetorical, impassioned at times; but he spoke
judicially on the problem in hand, pleading that they should not rush
into war, but await the course of law. Six hundred dark faces, unrippled
with emotion, were fixed intently with burning but immovable eyes, and
with the gravity of statues, on the speaker during the long discourse.
Then after the peroration, pipes and tobacco were passed around, and the
conference broke up, that the auditors might prepare, through their
orator, a reply.

Johnson never heard the Indians’ rejoinder. A few minutes after the
conclusion he was taken with relapse. Supported to his library, he soon
became unconscious, and before sunset was dead.

It was euthanasia. Past all call to decide between Indian tribe and
tribe, between white murderers and red, between serving conscience and
king, between following the colonies for freedom under law or supporting
arbitrary despotism under the fiction of power by the grace of God,
Johnson rested from his labours. He was one of the Makers of America,
building grander than he knew. His place in history is sure. Had he
lived a decade later!—but here we enter the region of conjecture, the
ground forbidden to history.

                               I N D E X.

Abercrombie, General, 68, 152-155, 168-171.
Akin, N. Y., 24, 32.
Alamance, N. C., 214-216.
Albany, 13, 28-30, 68, 70, 79, 114, 127-131.
Albany County, 216.
Algonkin Indians, 38.
Amherst, Lord, 173-176, 178, 186.
Auriesville, N. Y., 23.

Barclay, Rev. Thomas, 21, 79.
Barnwell, Col. John, 52.
Beavers, 26.
Beukendal, battle at, 97-108.
Bible, 9, 10.
Bloody Pond, 81, 136.
Book of Common Prayer, 55, 208.
Boone, Daniel, 193.
Boston, 30, 161.
Bouquet, Colonel, 154, 188.
Braddock, General, 68, 132, 135, 154.
Bradstreet, Colonel, 156, 169, 171, 190.
Brant, Joseph, 120, 189, 208.
Brant, Mary, 180, 206.
Broadalbin, N. Y., 199.
Butler, John, 18, 159.
Butler, Thomas, 171.
Butler, Walter, 18, 159.

Calendars, 97.
Canajoharie, 17, 79, 173.
Captives, 51, 189-191.
Catawba Indians, 114, 123, 124.
Caughnawaga, 17, 24, 56.
  _See_ Fonda.
Cayuga Indians, 37.
Champlain, 38, 40, 41.
Cherokee Indians, 213.
Cherry Valley, 17, 116, 198, 209.
Clinton, Gov. George, 65, 72, 83-92, 105, 109-117, 122, 124.
Clinton, Sir Henry, 124, 125.
Chucktununda creek, 24, 32.
Church edifices, 8-10, 15, 70, 71, 192, 196.
Claus, Captain, 187, 208.
Colden, Dr. Cadwallader, 37, 72, 75, 79, 80, 86, 105, 107, 182, 210, 211.
Confederacies, 51, 53, 54, 127, 191.
Congress, 127-131.
Connecticut, 80, 98, 100, 104.
Cooper, J. F., 59, 60, 190.
Corlaer, 3, 4, 45, 94.
  _See also_ Van Curler, Arendt.
Courcelles, 44.
Cresap’s war, 220.
Crown Point, 69, 70, 85, 95, 118, 146, 147, 187.
Crullers, 14.
Cuoq, Rev. I. A., 43.

Dartmouth College, 120, 121.
De Lancey, E. F., 21.
De Lancey, Gov. James, 72, 83, 126, 129, 132.
De Lancey, Stephen, 12.
De Lancey, Susan, 12.
Delaware Indians, 155, 156, 172, 188-191, 220.
De Peyster, Gen. J. W., 11, 208.
Detroit, 177-179, 181, 191.
De Witt, Simeon, 183.
Dieskau, Baron, 133, 137-141, 145, 219.
Domines in the Dutch Church, 15, 55, 71.
Dorp. _See_ Schenectady.
Drummers, 19, 29.
Dutch Republic. _See_ Holland.

Eastman, Dr. C. A., 121.
Easton, Penn., 156, 172.
Edwards, Jonathan, 119.
Eliot, John, 55.
Eyre, Major William, 134, 160, 179.

Fish House, 199.
Fonda, Major Jellis, 17, 159.
Fonda, N. Y., 17, 44, 58, 204.
  _See_ Caughnawaga.
Fort Bull, 148, 149.
Fort Frontenac, 171.
Fort George, 147, 175.
Fort Hunter, 17, 21.
Fort Massachusetts, 81, 132.
Fort Plain, 17.
Fort Stanwix, 171, 179, 186.
Fort William Henry, 144, 160, 161, 175.
France, 61, 62.
Franklin Benjamin, 131.
Freeman, Domine, 208.
Freeman, E. A., 53.
French ideas, 61-64, 66, 69, 112, 113, 151.
Fur trade, 19, 24, 28-30.

Gage, General, 161, 190.
German Flats, 6, 17, 161, 164-166.
Germans, 5-10, 20, 72, 153-155.
Ginseng, 23, 198.
Golden Hill, Battle of, 212.
Governors, 65:
  Andros, 30;
  Burnet, 18, 19;
  Cosby, 7, 18, 89;
  Craven, 51, 52;
  Denny, 156;
  Dinwiddie, 128;
  Dongan, 57, 58;
  Dunmore, Lord, 215;
  Fitch, 186;
  Glen, 114;
  Hardy, 144, 146, 147, 162;
  Hunter, 6;
  Moore, 210;
  Morris, 155;
  Nicholson, 5;
  Osborne, 124-126;
  Shirley, 74, 83, 96, 128, 133, 147-149, 152, 156;
  Tryon, 214-217.

Hamilton, James Alexander, 7.
Hartford, 186.
Hasenclever, Peter, 205.
Hawley, Rev. Gideon, 120.
Heidelberg Catechism, 8, 10.
Hendrick, King, 129, 133, 136.
Herkimer, 17.
Holland, 1, 11, 53, 61-63, 87, 91, 93, 110, 123, 125, 127, 182, 183.
Horicon, 133.
Horsmanden, Judge, 83, 93.
Howe, Lord, 163, 169.

Indians, antiquities, 59;
  councils, 115;
  dislike of artillery, 137, 187;
  effect on British imagination, 59, 60;
  etiquette, 45;
  fire-arms, 51;
  government, 36;
  half-breeds, 51;
  heraldry, 48, 49;
  industry, 40, 41;
  in executive council, 110, 116;
  in politics, 64, 178, 179, 184;
  inventions, 35, 50;
  money, 48;
  oratory, 47;
  religion, 46, 49, 50, 55-60;
  stratagems, 100;
  sports and games, 99;
  totems, 49, 184;
  warfare, 38-40, 70, 71, 100-104, 135-137, 140, 144.
Interpreters, 47, 161, 189.
Iroquois, 38-41, 44, 51, 35-60, 68, 69, 72, 107, 112, 127, 135, 149, 186,
  193, 220.

Johnson, Guy, 179, 186, 208.
Johnson Hall, 194-205.
Johnson, Mary, 209.
Johnson, Nancy, 208.
Johnson, Sir John, 22, 32, 206-208, 219.
Johnson, Sir William, adoption as chief, 77;
  agriculture, 203, 204;
  ancestry, 11;
  arrival in America, 12;
  baronet, 145;
  birth, 11;
  captures Niagara, 173-175;
  character, 13, 23;
  children, 33, 180, 206-208;
  coat-of-arms, 145;
  colonel, 83, 148;
  councils, 65, 80-82;
  disagrees with Shirley, 147, 148;
  education, 12, 119;
  education of the Indians, 119-121;
  fortifies his house, 187;
  freemason, 198;
  his housekeeper, 22;
  his wife, 20-23;
  his houses, 22, 24, 32, 194-196;
  in executive council, 110, 115, 117, 209;
  introduces fine cattle, 6, 203, 204;
  in Indian costume, 33;
  journey to Mohawk Valley, 13-16;
  journey to Detroit, 179, 181;
  Lake George campaign, 18, 81, 133-145;
  literary tastes, 119, 203, 204;
  major-general, 133, 217;
  manuscripts, 45, 97, 98;
  marriage, 21;
  money, 48;
  Mount Johnson, 22, 24, 33, 67, 94;
  offers reward for scalps, 189;
  oratory, 46, 47, 221;
  patience, 46;
  pleasures, 199, 201-204;
  protects Frenchmen, 174, 177;
  public life, 66, 67;
  shoots an elk, 25;
  resignation of office, 112;
  royal grant, 194, 195;
  superintendent, 76-79, 112, 115, 133, 148;
  tomb, 196;
  trade, 31-34;
  wampum, 48;
  work, 64;
  wounded, 139, 218.
Jogues, Isaac, 44, 55, 56, 133.
Johnstown, N. Y., 196, 197, 216, 217.
Joncaire, 93, 114.
Jones, Thomas, 26.
Judges, 182.

Kalm, 107, 108.
  Charles II., 93;
  George II., 105, 178;
  George III., 211.
Kirkland, Domine, 198.
Kryn, 57, 58.

Lake Champlain, 38, 40, 44.
Lake George, 67, 81, 133.
Land Patents, 123, 182-184.
La Prairie, 57, 58, 187.
La Presentation, 114, 118.
Leisler, 5, 6, 71.
Livingston, Philip, 110.
Livingston, William, 182.
Loudon, Lord, 68, 152, 153, 157, 159, 166.
Lyman, Col. Phineas, 139, 143.

Maize, 20, 25.
Manor system, 1, 2.
McGinnis, Capt. William, 141-143.
Megapolensis, 38, 55, 56.
Middle States, 63, 209.
Mohawk Indians, 17, 37, 44, 77-79, 123, 140, 159, 184, 188, 214.
Mohawk Valley, 1-9, 16, 25, 30, 34, 36, 66, 70, 73, 92, 118, 119, 125,
  164, 187, 202, 204.
Montcalm, General, 157, 158, 162, 163, 169, 170.
Montgomery County, 217.
Montmagny, 43.

New England, 1, 54, 62, 75, 150, 209.
New England militia, 15, 137-145.
New York Assembly, 83-91, 110, 111, 146, 149-151, 210.
New York Colony and State, 36, 63, 66, 74, 75, 90, 91, 150, 216.
Niagara, 118, 149, 173-175, 190.
Norman’s Kill, 37, 41.
North Carolina, 51, 52, 214-216.
Nott, Dr. Eliphalet, 121.

Ogdensburg, 175.
Ohio Company, 112, 218.
Ohio Valley, 112, 113, 122, 127.
Oneida Indians, 37, 58.
Onondaga Indians, 37, 58, 59, 93, 94, 96, 118, 119, 124, 155.
Onontio, 43.
Osborne, Sir Danvers, 124-126.
Oswego, 19, 20, 32, 84, 92, 116, 122, 149, 155-158, 175, 192.
Ottawa Indians, 51, 181, 191.

Palatines. _See_ Germans.
Parker, the printer, 89-91.
Parkman, 42, 43, 97.
Pennsylvania, 9, 154, 156, 172.
Picquet, Francis, 113, 158.
Pitt, William, 168.
Pompey Stone, 118.
Pontiac, 177, 187, 188, 191, 192, 201.

Quebec, 69, 175, 176.

Rifles, 156, 188.
Royal American Regiment, 153, 154.
Rutgers College, 217.

Sacandaga, 96-103.
Saratoga, 17, 73.
Saratoga Springs, 67, 218, 219.
Schenectady, 2-4, 14-16, 30, 36, 37, 39, 48, 58, 70, 92-108, 115, 171,
  176, 184, 192.
Schoharie, 8, 9, 16, 17.
Schuyler, Peter (Quider), 45, 180.
Schuyler (2d), 74, 76, 84.
Schuyler, Philip, 205, 207, 216.
Seneca Indians, 18, 37, 114, 188, 190.
Sergeant, John, 119, 120.
Shea, J. G., 59.
Simms, J. R., 21, 200.
Sioux Indians, 81.
Six Nations. _See_ Iroquois.
South Carolina, 52.
Spraker’s Basin, 56.
Stevens, Arent, 161.
Stuyvesant, Peter, 93.

Taxation, 117, 118, 209-216.
Teedyuscung, 155, 156, 172, 189.
Ticonderoga, 147.
Toll farm, 97-108.
Trade, 28-32.
Tuscarora Indians, 37, 51-53.

Union College, 121.

Van Curler, Arendt, 2;
  education, 2;
  first visits Mohawk Valley, 56;
  founds Schenectady, 2, 3, 184;
  name given by Indians, 42, 43;
  ransoms Jogues, 56;
  work, 38, 166.
Van Slyck, Albert, 97-108.
Victoria, Queen, 43.
Vrooman, Domine, 207.

Wampum, 15, 22, 26, 47-49, 112.
Warren, Admiral Peter, 12, 13, 43, 66, 67, 119, 122, 188.
Warrensburg, N. Y., 16.
Washington, George, 114, 126, 136, 160, 168.
Webb, General, 152, 158, 159, 162, 163.
Webster, Daniel, 183.
Wheelock, Dr. Eleazar, 120.
Whiting, Gen. Nathan, 136.
Williams, Col. William, 81, 134-136, 138.
Winslow, General, 152.
Wisenburg, Catharine, wife of Sir William Johnson, 20-22, 180.
Wolfe, General, 168.
Wyoming Valley, 186.

Zenger, John Peter, 7, 8, 89, 90.

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