Home    Table of Contents     Next Chapter     Black & White Version


The Tribes and the States

W. J. Sidis




        80. The Peace of 1697.  The Pfalzkrieg (War of the Palatinate) was dragging on in Europe rather indecisively, while the Hudson Valley War in America was proceeding in a more perfunctory way without either side doing anything further about it. Finally, in 1697, the kings back in Europe decided to conclude peace. As far as America was concerned, however, the European rulers were neither able to force a war to continue, nor to make a state of peace effective, since the red tribes, whom the European rulers preferred to consider their subjects, were still independent, and would not necessarily agree to terms of peace concluded on their behalf and without consulting them.

        The war having been an indecisive one, with the sole result that, in America, neither side had been able to make any conquests, it followed that the peace must be one of "status quo," leaving things as they were before. The Peace of 1697, however, represented a mutual recognition by the French and English of their rights to their respective colonies, a right which could not have been acknowledged before. In a way, 1697 really marks the first partition of America among European powers. Colonies had been established before, with the claim of indefinite rights to land still under red control; but not only did the colonies of the European powers fail to recognize the existence and rights of the red nations, but they also failed to recognize one another, considering each other trespassers, in the same way as they looked on the red man as an outlaw in his own country.

        By the Peace of 1697, France acknowledged English claims to the Atlantic coast as far inland as the ridge of the Appalachian Mountains, and as far northeastward as the Kennebec River; also the Iroquois Federation ("the Five Nations") were recognized as under English protection. England, in return, recognized France as having the right to the St. Lawrence and Mississippi valleys, and to the Acadian peninsula. Thus was North America partitioned between England and France, before either had as yet actual possession of more than a small amount of territory.

        But it was one thing to make a treaty in Europe, and another to enforce it in America. Both English and French had drawn red nations into the war, and these allies were not so easily to be called off. In 1698, a general conference of tribes, from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, was assembled in Montreal, and they were induced to stop the war; but, since nothing had been settled, it was to be expected that the peace could hardly be lasting. The Iroquois, who had entered the war merely to help England, readily concluded peace; but other nations, including the Penacook, were more reluctant to make a settlement which seemed to be taking their territory away from them and making them subjects of the European invaders. However, there was nothing to do except make their peace and await an opportunity, since they could not stand alone in the face of a general European agreement. But no actual peace was able to materialize; the contest between Canadian voyageurs and "Bastonnais" traders continued throughout the Kennebec region; and the American colonies never seemed to recognize the peace settlements, particularly Virginia, which still claimed the entire interior country. Peace could readily be made in Europe, but it proved more difficult to bind America to it.

        81. Louisiane.  Before intercolonial wars were started, King Louis XIV of France had discouraged exploration of the interior, feeling that Canada was all the American territory that France could handle. French policy in this regard was reversed after the Hudson Valley War, and attempts were made to colonize the Mississippi Valley, and link it up by a chain of communication with Canada. A chain of forts was thrown across the line of water communication; or, rather, more forts were added to the chain already started. The community of "Louisiane" began in earnest, as a shipload of French settlers came to the Gulf coast near the mouth of the Mississippi in 1699, and captured the red town of Biloxi, making it the headquarters of the new French colony of "Louisiane." A charter had been granted to a French banker for a company to administer the colony, but was soon abandoned, to be replaced by a new charter granted by France to a Scotchman, John Law, organizing the "Mississippi Company." John Law sold shares in this company to the French people at constantly inflating prices, until the whole structure crashed and the company was dissolved without ever having functioned, leaving many people in France minus their money, and with worthless stock on their hands. Many of these people, finding little likelihood of earning a living in France after everything had been affected by this crash, took the opportunity of emigrating to the country in which they had bought shares.

        The colony of Louisiane started out by asserting rights to a considerable stretch of Gulf Coast on both sides of the Mississippi, conflicting with Spanish claims. Settlements were attempted in Texas, but failed; but the claim that Texas thereby became part of "Louisiane" remained on paper for a long time. Eastward also, the new colony encroached on the Spanish colony of Florida, and siege was laid to the Floridian town of Mauvilla in 1702, with victory for the French, who occupied it as the town of Mobile, and made it their new capital. The Spanish then immediately established a new outpost near Mobile, at Pensacola.

        The establishment of a French community called Fort Rosalie in Natchez territory was a signal for a new outbreak between French and Natchez, as similarly the attempt to enforce the partition of North America was occasioning trouble on all sides. These events were soon bound to lead to a renewal of the war.

        In the Great lakes region, the upper lakes formed the key to communication between Canada and Louisiane. The chief portage between the two water systems was now selected as the location for a French fort, at Checagou; and it was seen that the Straits between Lake Erie and Lake Huron formed an important key in the line of communication, so it was arranged to fortify them. At first it was attempted to fortify the Lake Erie end of the straits, at the island which the French named Bois Blanc (now corrupted to Bob-Lo); but, on account of the multiplicity of water passages at this point, a suitable defense could not be arranged there, and the expedition, led by the Jesuit Père de la Motte Cadillac, decided to try the outlet of Lake St. Clair, at a point just below the island of Wensbezee (named Belle Isle by the French), where the channel of the Straits unites. Here was built the French Fort Détroit, and around it "la Ville du Détroit" (the City of the Straits). This was the beginning of the present city of Detroit, in 1701, in preparation for a renewal of intercolonial wars.

        82. The English Colonies after the Partition.  Although in Maine there was still some sporadic fighting between Yankees and French, and in spite of the fact that South Carolina had its troubles similarly with Florida, there was as yet a certain amount of peace in the Atlantic seaboard, where the English settlements were. King William was getting ready to impose a new system of despotism on these colonies, probably because he felt he could not do it in England. The old Navigation Acts, which had always been a bone of contention between England and America, and over which Massachusetts lost her original charter, were strengthened, so that even tree cutting or the sale of woolen goods was forbidden, and it became almost impossible to obtain clothing in the English colonies of America, which were forced to adopt a system of manufacture of clothing in the homes. Similarly iron mining was forbidden, because it might compete with England's iron business. Since American juries were unwilling to help in the enforcement of these laws, the task was given to the Courts of Admiralty in England, which sometimes consented to hold trials in America, but which usually insisted on dragging anyone accused over to England for trial.

        There was a new spurt in the direction of education, especially in New England, where the enforced disestablishment of the Puritan Church was having beneficial results, in the way of releasing much of the individual activity that had been bound up under provincial control. The mass education idea was prevalent, and in 1701 Connecticut organized Yale College at New Haven, formed by graduates of Harvard College, and mainly as a local rival to Harvard, which it seems to have remained to the present time.

        Mass education, however, was not the only form developed at this period. The dissemination of news was also begun, an attempt to start a news bulletin having been suppressed in 1688 by Governor Andros. In 1704, it was reorganized, and started as the Boston News Letter, a small bulletin giving the important public news without comment or expression of opinion. This was the original form in which the American press started, and was the legitimate form of news dissemination for which freedom to operate could properly be made an issue in fighting for public liberty; totally in contrast to the present press, which tries to avail itself of such privileges for the purpose of dictating opinions to the people, and for which liberty can only mean a license to conduct a private reign of terror. Freedom of the press, in its original form, was, however, very much an issue during the Andros period, and properly so; and America's first news publication represents a certain concession won from the English rulers by the people of New England.

        To the South, especially to Virginia, the partition of 1697 was a matter to be totally ignored. Virginia's unnecessarily rapid expansion of territory was bound to come in conflict with French claim to the Mississippi Valley, and, naturally, a little thing like a treaty could not be allowed to stand in the way.

        The subjugation of the farm population of New England was proceeding rapidly, although their traditions as a free people ruling themselves and conducting their own affairs could not so easily be wiped out. External submission, however, there was, mainly because attacks by the French or their red allies was still feared; but the people were constantly ready to rebel. A submissive Puritan is a combination that has never been found.

        King William was planning to reduce all America to personal dependence on himself, and, with that point in view, was taking steps to turn all the colonies into royal colonies, although Penn was able to prevent Pennsylvania from being taken out of his hands. Maryland, New Hampshire, and the Carolinas were taken out of the hands of their proprietors, and proprietorship of the Cartarets was put to an end in New Jersey. Connecticut and Rhode Island were still allowed to retain their charter governments, but the king was getting ready to amend these charters so as to make himself absolute ruler there too. A gradual scheme of curtailment of civil rights in America was worked out, but the king never had time to carry it into operation.

        In 1702, on the death of King William and the accession of his daughter Anne to the English throne, all these schemes of well-planned repression were dropped, and America was afflicted instead with a set of extremely corrupt royal governors. New York particularly, which was regarded as the personal estate of the Crown, received as a governor Lord Cornbury, a cousin of the queen, who diverted an extraordinary amount of public funds into his own pockets, and told the assembly, in reply to their meekly-voiced objections, that they only had such rights as the queen chose to give them! A strongly built organization for political larceny was formed in New York to help the governor carry on this work―largely recruited from the similar aides of the Dutch governors and their successors―this has functioned in one form or another to the present time, and the corruption with which it has honeycombed New York is regarded locally as an absolutely necessary and indispensable adjunct of government. As New Yorkers, in contrast to the Puritan population of New England, are submissive, and have a remarkable reverence for authority, no objection was made after Cornbury gave the assembly its rebuke.

        Queen Anne was greatly interested in promoting the slave trade, and forced it on all parts of the English territory in America. New York became a special center for the enterprise, and, in the early part of the eighteenth century there were several slave uprisings in New York, the slaves in New York having apparently more courage than the citizens.

        83. The Acadian War.  As we have seen, the state of hostilities between the English and French colonies and their red allies, which began with the Hudson Valley War, did not really end when peace was signed in Europe. Clashes were constantly taking place on a small scale; while Maine, being Wabanake territory, not under actual possession of either English or French, was a ground of quarrels between Canadians and "Bastonnais." Although the Penacook Federation had withdrawn from the fight in 1698, many Penacook tribesmen were considerably influenced by the French Jesuit missionary Father Rasles, who persuaded them that the tribal councils had exceeded their authority in giving over the land of the tribes to the English. This propaganda fell at the time on fertile soil, and the Wabanakes, plus a number of individuals from the Penacook tribes who joined with the Wabanakes, kept up the skirmishing that France officially had stopped.

        This situation was, of course, bound to lead to a renewal of hostilities between France and England, and, in 1702, shortly after Queen Anne's accession as ruler, the war was officially renewed. The official excuse in Europe (whose diplomatists apparently felt bound to ignore America as far as possible) was a disagreement over the succession to the throne of Spain, from which circumstance the Acadian War of America (otherwise more commonly known as Queen Anne's War) became, in Europe, the War of the Spanish Succession. The Spanish king in power being backed by France, it meant that Spain became involved as an ally of France, in spite of the French encroachments on Florida.

        Upon the declaration of war, the old line-up was resumed. The Iroquois joined England, as they had always regularly done under their alliance treaty of 1634 (which the Iroquois still consider to be in force); the Penacook Federation needed little persuasion to resume fighting the Yankees of New England who had been slowly but surely pushing them out of their country. The French garrison at Fort Rosalie was making additional demands on the Natchez, and war was renewed there.

        The Spanish entry into the war resulted in Florida, with the help of many of its red neighbors who had no friendship for the English "land-grabbing policy," attacking South Carolina. A reprisal resulted, due to which the Spanish settlements on Appalachee Bay were captured, and annexed, for the time being, to South Carolina. But in the north, against France, the balance was more even, until 1709, when the Penacook Federation commenced its own separate peace negotiations, since the red men were unable to understand the long-drawn-out continuance of the white men's wars.

        The Penacooks had been far from defeated, and, in fact, had successfully destroyed many Yankee towns during the course of this war; but maintaining a state of hostility for an indefinite period was not their way, and the Federation was not as yet ready to keep it up just because the French wished them to do so. It is said that what brought this matter to a head was Squando (the Bashaba of Penacook) losing his young son Menewee, which affected him much as a similar loss had formerly affected another Bashaba, Metacom, and made him unable to continue the battle. After seven years of fruitless warring, the Penacook tribes were easily persuaded to ask the English for peace, and Squando met Waldron, the Governor of New Hampshire, at Piscataqua, in Maine, just across the river from Portsmouth. The Penacooks offered peace, with little regard for terms.

"Waldron of Piscataqua,
Hear what Squando has to say.

"Take the captives he has ta'en,
Let the land have peace again."

        This peace, "the truce of Piscataqua," as it was called, proved to be the turning point of the war, giving the English the victory, and turned out to be disastrous for the Penacook tribes. No territory was taken at the time from the Penacooks, although they were treated as subjects, the English considering that the tribes had sued for peace. Squando attempted, in arranging for the peace, to be allowed to adopt a little girl he had chosen from the captives, to replace his lost son, but he failed in this plan, and the child was adopted by Waldron; but the Bashaba kept in touch with her, and she grew up initiated in tribal principles, and, in later life, had much to do with the stirring up revolution in England.

        After this "truce," expeditions from New England captured Port Royal, in the French province of Acadie. This community had been captured during the Hudson Valley War, but had been returned by the peace treaty. On its recapture, the Acadian port was named after the English queen, and was called Annapolis. The rest of the Quoddy peninsula was soon taken by the English, and James I's old "charter" for that district was revived, resulting in the organization of that peninsula into the province of Nova Scotia.

        The English army released from America by the truce with the Penacook Federation also enabled England to attack Spain in its home ground, and lay siege to Gibraltar, which was captured by the English before the war was over. An expedition was also to be assembled to enter the St. Lawrence River, and attack Quebec; and it might have materialized had the organization been left to Americans; but the English officers sent over for the purpose of heading such an important selected group dawdled and delayed in Boston until the French had time to learn the plan and it was too late to do anything; the English officers apparently were of the sort that preferred to stay and enjoy the attractions of the big city rather than take risks for themselves. The expedition finally started out, but it was a complete failure.

        When the war was ended, in 1714, England retained the Acadian peninsula (Nova Scotia) but returned Cape Breton Island with its valuable fortress of Louisburg, guarding the entrance to the St. Lawrence. In exchange for Louisburg, France gave England the city of Madras in India, thus providing England a first foothold there. Gibraltar was also recognized as English, and the boundaries of Carolina (still considered as one province, although with two separate governments) were extended to the Savannah River. France also ceded to England the entire Hudson Bay basin for the use of the Hudson Bay Company, which had had its forts and trading posts throughout that area for some time; this terrain was named "Prince Rupert Land." France itself was recognized as the holder of the entire valley of the Mississippi, as well as the entire Great Lakes region (except the Iroquois district south of Lake Ontario) and the St. Lawrence Valley. English Maine was extended to the St. Croix River, according to the peace treaty, making the greater portion of Wabanake territory theoretically English (though taking possession was a totally different matter). But France was still recognized as entitled to all land behind the Appalachian mountain range.

        The English victory in this war is usually attributed to the union of England and Scotland in 1707, but, since Scotland had been, for all practical military purposes, united with England for over a century, the political union could not be expected to have any effect. The actual turning point in the war was the truce offered by the Penacook Federation, and in a way that proved disastrous to the Red tribes in general. The truce offered at Piscataqua seemed to be a case of "peace at any price."

        84. Wars Against the Tribes.  The peace of 1714 was a fairly lasting one, in spite of the fact that both sides still had controversial issues. However, the characteristic of this "peace" was that both sides kept themselves busy in the attempt to subdue or destroy the Red peoples within their respective territories. This process began in 1713, before the peace was signed, when North Carolina began surveying Tuscarora land, in the Appalachian foothills, to divide among a group of Germans who had just arrived across the ocean. This division resulted in a bitter war between North Carolina and the Tuscaroras, as a result of which the Tuscaroras were forced out of their mountain lands, and migrated northward to the Iroquois Federation, who admitted them as a sixth state of the Federation, on the basis of a common language and a common origin.

        The English also undertook the subjugation of the Wabanake region (Maine), where Father Rasles, the Jesuit missionary, obtained greater support than ever by encouraging resistance on the part of the tribes. Many Wabanake towns were destroyed by the English, and their inhabitants massacred, after the "peace" was concluded. Finally, in 1724, Norridgewock was burned and all the red men there killed, not to mention Father Rasles himself. This was the end of the power of the Wabanake Federation. The Penacook Federation suffered somewhat, too, from these raids, although not to the same extent as the Wabanakes. This was the result of the Penacook tribes wishing to make peace with the English prematurely.

         The French were equally active in their own realm. Many new settlements were made, the most important being the town of Nouvelle Orléans (New Orleans), near the mouth of the Mississippi, which became the new capital of the French province of Louisiane. The chief obstacle to French control of the Mississippi was the Natchez nation, which suddenly received an ultimatum to surrender its capital for farm grounds for the French garrison commander. This command resulted in a war between French and Natchez in 1729, and the Natchez were hunted down through the swamps and killed wherever found, men, women or children. Many escaped to the Creek nation, which adopted them as a separate and newly formed gens, which is still part of the tribe―the Natchez gens. The rest of them, finding escape cut off, and still refusing to surrender, arranged a triumphal march, early in 1730―about ten thousand strong―with their sacred fire at the head of the procession, and the entire tribe, or what was left of it, marched right into the Mississippi River. The peace following the Acadian War was thus more of a state of war than the official war it purported to end.

        85. A Thirteenth Colony.  At this time there were four New England colonies recognized (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut), four middle colonies (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware), and four southern colonies (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina). Technically, there were only ten provinces instead of twelve, but Delaware had actually its own autonomy; and the two Carolinas were governed separately, and, the proprietors selling out their title to the crown, the separation of North and South Carolina became officially acknowledged.

         However, England was still designing further expansion of dominion at the expense of Florida―probably with the design of ultimately conquering Florida itself―and so a thirteenth colony was planned.

        In 1732, General Oglethorpe, proposed a plan of making a penal reform colony out of any spare American territory, where English prisoners could be sent to start over again in a new land; and Parliament granted him the area between the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers for the experiment. This region was Spanish by the peace treaty, and it was a foregone conclusion that the colony would have to fight hard for its existence. The first settlement, Savannah, was selected at a site close to the recognized frontier, so it could easily be aided by South Carolina.

         Oglethorpe accompanied a shipload of criminals and debt prisoners to the new promised land in 1733, and organized his little penal colony at Savannah, naming the colony after King George II, the Province of Georgia. The colony prospered from the beginning, and Oglethorpe proved a benevolent if despotic leader. Georgia was run as a penal colony, a place to which convicts were regularly exiled, for many years to come. The other English colonies in America did not regard Georgia as on an equal footing during all this time.

         Oglethorpe, unlike the rulers of the other colonies, did not treat the red tribes as outlaws and trespassers on their own land. He arranged peace conferences with the neighboring tribes, and obtained their permission for the Georgia settlements. The friendship of the tribes was thus assured, and they helped ward off Spanish attacks on the little colony. South Carolina had been exposed to Spanish attack due to its having antagonized the red people; but Georgia was in a much stronger position because General Oglethorpe took an opposite attitude on the question.

         Oglethorpe's plan was strictly one of reform. The colonists were prisoners on parole, and given their liberty, but carefully watched, and under strict regulation; every effort was made to make them useful and self-supporting members of the new community. Oglethorpe was strict in particular about barring slaves and rum from his province; but this regulation persisted only as long as Oglethorpe was in Georgia personally to supervise its enforcement. The British government itself was still acting as agent for the Spanish slave trade, and efforts to import slaves into Georgia were put through as soon as Oglethorpe returned to England, in a few years from the founding of the colony. Liquor, which was an important article of trade for British shipping, was also distributed among the ex-convicts; so, between drink, and the slaves who were forced to do the colonists' work, the industrious and self-supporting habits that Oglethorpe had so carefully cultivated in his wards quickly fell to pieces, and the reform plan failed. Slavery became the order of the day, and the ex-prisoners became harsher slave-drivers than the aristocrats of Virginia and the Carolinas.

         86. Religious Reform.  The disestablishment of the Puritan church in Massachusetts, resulting from the royal regime taking control there, left the followers of that church free to reconsider much in the way of dogma that had been imposed by administrative authority during the greater part of the seventeenth century. A similar occurrence had taken place earlier in Connecticut, due to the dissolution of the strong theocracy of New Haven, and its unity with the Connecticut colony. In Massachusetts, there was no further cause for distinction between Pilgrim and Puritan churches, previously distinguished by the fact that the latter was an established church, and the former was not. But, in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, the early part of the eighteenth century saw a strong tendency on the part of the followers of the Puritan church to question the ruling powers of their religion, who had hitherto used their governmental authority to prevent any expression of opinion against them. The fact that prominent Puritan ministers, such as Cotton Mather, had proved themselves traitors to Puritan ideals during the Andros regime, was enough to produce doubt in the minds of the New Englanders, especially in view of the strength of individual opinion and principles in New England.

         This attitude resulted, about the year 1730, in a schism in the Puritan sect, a large reform group splitting off. These schismatics were known as New Lights, while the followers of the Congregational Church proper (the united Puritan and Pilgrim church) called themselves, in reply, Old Lights. Eventually (about 1736), the "New Lights" lined themselves up with the Methodist sect which had just come into New England.

         This division in the ranks of the Congregationalists also brought up, in a somewhat disguised manner, the question of tolerance, which had been the original point of contention over which Rhode Island had broken away from Massachusetts. Although this problem, as such, had come to be identified with Rhode Island, and consequently had bitter opposition in Massachusetts, the split in the church brought the issue back in a different aspect; much was now being done toward promoting general freedom of discussion on both religious and political subjects; on the latter, the unusually democratic forms of New England had always encouraged considerable freedom, which was bound to be applied generally as soon as restraint was removed.

        In the interests of general freedom of speech the town of Boston received in 1708 a gift of a meeting hall from a merchant named Peter Faneuil, who, anticipating that authorities might be tempted at some time to set limits to public discussions, made freedom of discussion a condition to the town's title to the hall. The building was given for a combined market and meeting place, and is still used for the same purpose. The meeting hall of this building was from the beginning, and still is, a storm center, having been used for mass meetings of the rebels in the days before the American Revolution; then, later, in the movement against slavery; still more recently in strike movements and in all grades of civic protest meetings; and even America's first communist mass meeting was held in Faneuil Hall. Even though attempts have been made to tie up Faneuil Hall's freedom of discussion in various forms of regulation and red tape, that building has remained a center for all forms of movements for American liberty. The building has quite appropriately received the name of "The Cradle of Liberty."

        The issue of religious tolerance, however, was not settled, and a test was to come in 1742 when a refugee colony of Portuguese Jews, exiled from their home country, and rejected by the countries of Europe, came to America seeking admission in the English provinces. They were refused admission in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, in spite of the fact that a few of that religion were already living in Charles Town; but they were welcomed as refugees in Rhode Island, where they settled in Newport.

        87. The Georgian War.  After thirty years of "peace", consisting of constant wars against the red tribes, and in constant maneuvering for position on the part of both English and French colonies, and in England’s forcing the slave trade on her American colonies in fulfillment of a treaty with Spain making England general agent for Spain's slave trade, war finally broke out in 1744 as a result of Spain's attempting to take possession of Georgia, which, as we have seen, was built on territory recognized as Spanish by the treaty of 1714. This event brought back all the alliances in Europe and America that had been made to involve so many of the nations of the two continents in the Acadian War. Incidentally, France was concerned, which brought back Canada and Louisiana into the arena of battle. In Europe this conflict was known as the War of the Austrian Succession.

        Georgia made unsuccessful attempts to capture Florida. Virginia, which, in its rapid expansion caused by providing new estates for the aristocrats, had already begun to occupy the Shenandoah Valley, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, was preparing to push across the mountain barrier, and into the valley of the Ohio River, and was sending out trading expeditions into enemy territory, while the French were also preparing to take possession of "La Belle Rivière" (the French translation of the Iroquois, Oheeyo). No clashes, however, occurred on the Ohio region during this war. In 1746, when a number of Scotch prisoners were captured in the defeat of the "Pretender" were sent as indentured servants to Virginia, it was considered more imperative to provide new estates where they could be sent when they were freed, which was scheduled for 1753. It was anticipated, that, in 1753 and 1754, peace or war, the Ohio dispute would be forced to a head.

        As the thirty years' peace had been a very belligerent one, so the Georgian War proved fairly peaceful, on the whole, there being little fighting; and the whole war was ended by a peace treaty in 1748, recognizing England's claims to Georgia, but otherwise leaving everything as it was before the war. The Ohio area was still claimed by Virginia, which obstinately refused to recognize any of the peace treaties as far as territorial provisions were concerned. So was initiated a short peace which was to be merely a preparation for a battle to the finish between English and French colonies in America.


 Home    Contents    Next