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Heights. The three Senecas requested them to demolish it and go away, which the Frenchmen refused to do; on which the Senecas asked the English envoys, Schuyler and Livingston, to induce the governor of New York to destroy the obnoxious building. In short, the Five Nations wavered incessantly between their two European neighbors, and changed their minds every day. The skill and perseverance of the French emissaries so far prevailed at last that the Senecas consented to the building of a fort at the mouth of the Niagara, where Denonville had built one in 1687; and thus that important pass was made tolerably secure.
Meanwhile the English of New York, or rather Burnet, their governor, were not idle. Burnet was on ill terms with his assembly, which grudged him all help in serving the province whose interests it was supposed to represent. Burnet's plan was to build a fortified trading-house at Oswego, on Lake Ontario, in the belief that the western Indians, who greatly preferred English goods and English prices, would pass Niagara and bring their furs to the new post. He got leave from the Five Nations to execute his plan, bought canoes, hired men, and built a loopholed house of stone on the site of the present city of Oswego. As the Assembly would give no money, Burnet furnished it himself; and though the object was one of the greatest importance to the province, he was never fully repaid. A small garrison for the
1 “I am ashamed to confess that he built the fort at his private expense, and that a balance of above £56 remains due to his new post was drawn from the four independent companies maintained in the province at the charge of the Crown.
The establishment of Oswego greatly alarmed and incensed the French, and a council of war at Quebec resolved to send two thousand men against it; but Vaudreuil's successor, the Marquis de Beauharnois, learning that the court was not prepared to provoke a war, contented himself with sending a summons to the commanding officer to abandon and demolish the place within a fortnight. To this no attention was given; and as Burnet had foreseen, Oswego became the great centre of Indian trade, while Niagara, in spite of its more favorable position, was comparatively slighted by the western tribes. The chief danger rose from the obstinate prejudice of the Assembly, which, in its disputes with the Royal Governor, would give him neither men nor money to defend the new post.
The Canadian authorities, who saw in Oswego an intrusion on their domain and a constant injury and menace, could not attack it without bringing on a war, and therefore tried to persuade the Five Nations to destroy it, — an attempt which completely failed. estate to this very day." — Smith, History of New York, 267 (ed. 1814).
1 Mémoire de Dupuy, 1728. Dupuy was intendant of Canada. The King approved the conduct of Beauharnois in not using force Dépêche du Roy, 14 Mai, 1728.
3 When urged by the younger Longueuil to drive off the Eng lish from Oswego, the Indians replied, “ Drive them off thyself" (" Chassez-les toi-même”). Longueuil fils au Ministre, 19 Octobre, 1728
They then established a trading-post at Toronto, in the vain hope of stopping the northern tribes on their way to the more profitable English market, and they built two armed vessels at Fort Frontenac to control the navigation of Lake Ontario.
Meanwhile, in another quarter the French made an advance far more threatening to the English colonies than Oswego was to their own. They had already built a stone fort at Chambly, which covered Montreal from any English attack by way of Lake Champlain. As that lake was the great highway between the rival colonies, the importance of gaining full mastery of it was evident. It was rumored in Canada that the English meant to seize and fortify the place called Scalp Point (Pointe à la Chevelure) by the French, and Crown Point by the English, where the lake sud. denly contracts to the proportions of a river, so that a few cannon would stop the passage.
As early as 1726 the French made an attempt to establish themselves on the east side of the lake opposite Crown Point, but were deterred by the opposition of Massachusetts. This eastern shore was, however, claimed not only by Massachusetts, but by her neighbor, New Hampshire, with whom she presently fell into a dispute about the ownership, and, as a writer of the time observes, “while they were quarrelling for the bone, the French ran away with it.”]
At length, in 1731, the French took post on the western side of the lake, and began to intrench them.
· Mitchell, Contest in America, 22.
selves at Crown Point, which was within the bounds claimed by New York; but that province, being then engrossed, not only by her chronic dispute with her governor, but by a quarrel with her next neighbor, New Jersey, slighted the danger from the common enemy, and left the French to work their will. It was Saint-Luc de la Corne, Lieutenant du Roy at Montreal, who pointed out the necessity of fortifying this place,” in order to anticipate the English, who, as he imagined, were about to do so, - a danger which was probably not imminent, since the English colonies, as a whole, could not and would not unite for such a purpose, while the individual provinces were too much absorbed in their own internal affairs and their own jealousies and disputes to make the attempt. La Corne's suggestion found favor at court, and the governor of Canada was ordered to occupy Crown Point. The Sieur de la Fresnière was sent thither with troops and workmen, and a fort was built, and named Fort Frédéric. It contained a massive stone tower, mounted with cannon to command the lake, which is here but a musket-shot wide. Thus was established an advanced post of France, — a constant menace to New York and New England, both of which denounced it as an outrageous encroachment on British territory, but could not unite to rid themselves of it.”
1 La Corne au Ministre, 15 Octobre, 1730.
* On the establishment of Crown Point, Beauharnois et Hocquart au Roy, 10 Octobre, 1781; Beauharnois et Hocquart au Ministre, 14 Movembre, 1731.
1731–1750.) FRANCE FORTIFIES THE WEST.
While making this bold push against their neighbors of the South, the French did not forget the West; and towards the middle of the century they had occupied points controlling all the chief waterways between Canada and Louisiana Niagara held the passage from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. Detroit closed the entrance to Lake Huron, and Michilimackinac guarded the point where Lake Huron is joined by Lakes Michigan and Superior; while the fort called La Baye, at the head of Green Bay, stopped the way to the Mississippi by Marquette's old route of Fox River and the Wisconsin. Another route to the Mississippi was controlled by a post on the Maumee to watch the carrying-place between that river and the Wabash, and by another on the Wabasb where Vincennes now stands. La Salle's route, by way of the Kankakee and the Illinois, was barred by a fort on the St. Joseph; and even if, in spite of these obstructions, an enemy should reach the Mississippi by any of its northern affluents, the cannon of Fort Chartres would prevent him from descending it.
These various western forts, except Fort Chartres and Fort Niagara, which were afterwards rebuilt, the one in stone and the other in earth, were stockades of no strength against cannon. Slight as they were, their establishment was costly; and as the King, to whom Canada was a yearly loss, grudged every franc spent upon it, means were contrived to make them self-supporting. Each of them was a station of the fur-trade, and the position of most of them had been