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Once, when the frontier was seriously threatened, Clinton, as commander-in-chief, called out the militia to defend it; but they refused to obey, on the ground that no Act of the Assembly required them to do so. 1
Clinton sent home bitter complaints to Newcastle and the Lords of Trade. “They [the Assembly) are selfish, jealous of the power of the Crown, and of such levelling principles that they are constantly attacking its prerogative. ... I find that neither dissolutions nor fair means can produce from them such Effects as will tend to a publick good or their own preservation. They will neither act for themselves nor assist their neighbors. . . . Few but hirelings have a seat in the Assembly, who protract time for the sake of their wages, at a great expence to the Province, without contributing anything material for its welfare, credit, or safety.” And he declares that unless Parliament takes them in hand he can do nothing for the service of the King or the good of the province,a for they want to usurp the whole administration, both civil and military. 8
At Saratoga there was a small settlement of Dutch farmers, with a stockade fort for their protection.
i Clinton to the Lords of Trade, 10 November, 1747. 2 Ibid., 30 November, 1745.
3 Remarks on the Representation of the Assembly of New York, May, 1747, in N. Y. Col. Docs., vi. 365. On the disputes of the governor and Assembly see also Smith, History of New York, ii. (1830), and Stone, Life and Times of Sir William Johnson, i. N. Y. Colonial Documents, vi., contains many papers on the subject, chiefly on the governor's side.
VOL. II. – 14
This was the farthest outpost of the colony, and the only defence of Albany in the direction of Canada. It was occupied by a sergeant, a corporal, and ten soldiers, who testified before a court of inquiry that it was in such condition that in rainy weather neither they nor their ammunition could be kept dry. As neither the Assembly nor the merchants of Albany would make it tenable, the garrison was withdrawn before winter by order of the governor." Scarcely was this done when five hundred French and Indians, under the partisan Marin, surprised the settlement in the night of the twenty-eighth of November, burned fort, houses, mills, and stables, killed thirty persons, and carried off about a hundred prisoners.” Albany was left uncovered, and the Assembly voted £150 in provincial currency to rebuild the ruined fort. A feeble palisade work was accordingly set up, but it was neglected like its predecessor. Colonel Peter Schuyler was stationed there with his regiment in 1747, but was forced to abandon his post for want of supplies. Clinton then directed Colonel Roberts, commanding at Albany, to examine the fort, and if he found it indefensible, to burn it, - which he did, much to the astonishment of a French war-party, who visited the place soon after, and found nothing but ashes.1
* Examinations at a Court of Inquiry at Albany, 11 December, 1745, in N. Y. Col. Docs., vi. 374.
* The best account of this affair is in the journal of a French officer in Schuyler, Colonial New York, ii. 115. The dates, being in new style, differ by eleven days from those of the English accounts. The Dutch hamlet of Saratoga, surprised by Marin, was near the mouth of the Fish Kill, on the west side of the Hudson. There was also a small fort on the east side, a little below the mouth of the Batten Kill.
The burning of Saratoga, first by the French and then by its own masters, made a deep impression on the Five Nations, and a few years later they taunted their white neighbors with these shortcomings in no measured terms. “You burned your own fort at Seraghtoga and ran away from it, which was a shame and a scandal to you.”2 Uninitiated as they were in party politics and faction quarrels, they could see nothing in this and other military lapses but proof of a want of martial spirit, if not of cowardice. Hence the difficulty of gaining their active alliance against the French was redoubled. Fortunately for the province, the adverse influence was in some measure counteracted by the character and conduct of one man. Up to this time the French had far surpassed the rival nation in the possession of men ready and able to deal with the Indians and mould them to their will. Eminent among such was Joncaire, French emissary among the Senecas in western New York, who, with admirable skill, held back that powerful member of the Iroquois league from siding with the English. But now, among the Mohawks of eastern New York, Joncaire found his match in the person of William Johnson, a vigorous and intelli.
1 Schuyler, Colonial New York, ii. 121.
Report of a Council with the Indians at Albany, 28 June, 1754.
gent young Irishman, nephew of Admiral Warren, and his agent in the management of his estates on the Mohawk. Johnson soon became intimate with his Indian neighbors, spoke their language, joined in their games and dances, sometimes borrowed their dress and their paint, and whooped, yelped, and stamped like one of themselves. A white man thus playing the Indian usually gains nothing in the esteem of those he imitates; but, as before in the case of the redoubtable Count Frontenac, Johnson's adoption of their ways increased their liking for him and did not diminish their respect. The Mohawks adopted him into their tribe and made him a warchief. Clinton saw his value; and as the Albany commissioners hitherto charged with Indian affairs had proved wholly inefficient, he transferred their functions to Johnson; whence arose more heartburnings. The favor of the governor cost the new functionary the support of the Assembly, who refused the indispensable presents to the Indians, and thus vastly increased the difficulty of his task. Yet the Five Nations promised to take up the hatchet against the French, and their orator said, in a conference at Albany, “Should any French priests now dare to come among us, we know no use for them but to roast them.”i Johnson's present difficulties, however, sprang more from Dutch and English traders than from French priests, and he begs that an Act may be passed against the selling of liquor to the Indians, “as it is impossible to do anything with them while there is such a plenty to be had all round the neighborhood, being forever drunk.” And he complains especially of one Clement, who sells liquor within twenty yards of Johnson's house, and immediately gets from the Indians all the bounty money they receive for scalps, “which leaves them as poor as ratts,” and therefore refractory and unmanageable. Johnson says further: “There is another grand villain, George Clock, who lives by Conajoharie Castle, and robs the Indians of all their cloaths, etc.” The chiefs complained, “upon which I wrote him twice to give over that custom of selling liquor to the Indians; the answer was he gave the bearer, I might hang myself.” Indian affairs, it will be seen, were no better regulated then than now. Meanwhile the French Indians were ravaging the frontiers and burning farmhouses to within sight of Albany. The Assembly offered rewards for the scalps of the marauders, but were slow in sending money to pay them, - to the great discontent of the Mohawks, who, however, at Johnson's instigation, sent out various war-parties, two of which, accompanied by a few whites, made raids as far as the island of Montreal, and somewhat checked the incursions of the mission Indians by giving them work near home. The check was but momentary. Heathen Indians from the West joined the Canadian converts, and the * Johnson to Clinton, 7 May, 1747.
1 Answer of the Six (Five] Nations to His Excellency the Governor at Albany, 23 August, 1746.