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gave rise. The ministry sent no aid, but left to Shirley and Massachusetts the task of keeping the province for King George. Shirley and Massachusetts did what they could; but they could not do all that the emergency demanded.
Shirley courageously spoke his mind to the ministry, on whose favor he was dependent. “The fluctuating state of the inhabitants of Acadia,” he wrote to Newcastle, “seems, my lord, naturally to arise from their finding a want of due protection from his Majesty's Government."1
i Shirley to Newcastle, 29 April, 1747. On Shirley's relations with the Acadians, see Appendix C.
WAR AND POLITICS.
GOVERNOR AND ASSEMBLY. — SARATOGA DESTROYED. - WILLIAM
JOHNSON.- BORDER RAVAGES. — UPPER ASHUELOT. — FRENCH “ MILITARY MOVEMENTS.” – NUMBER Four. — NIVERVILLE's ATTACK. — PHINEAS STEVENS. -THE FRENCH REPULSED.
From the East we turn to the West, for the province of New York passed for the West at that day. Here a vital question was what would be the attitude of the Five Nations of the Iroquois towards the rival European colonies, their neighbors. The Treaty of Utrecht called them British subjects. What the word “subjects” meant, they themselves hardly knew. The English told them that it meant children; the French that it meant dogs and slaves. Events had tamed the fierce confederates; and now, though, like all savages, unstable as children, they leaned in their soberer moments to a position of neutrality between their European neighbors, watching with jealous eyes against the encroachments of both. The French would gladly have enlisted them and their tomahawks in the war; but seeing little hope of this, were generally content if they could prevent them from siding with the English, who on their part regarded them as their Indians, and were satisfied with nothing less than active alliance.
When Shirley's plan for the invasion of Canada was afoot, Clinton, governor of New York, with much ado succeeded in convening the deputies of the confederacy at Albany, and by dint of speeches and presents induced them to sing the war-song and take up the hatchet for England. The Iroquois were disgusted when the scheme came to nought, their warlike ardor cooled, and they conceived a low opinion of English prowess.
The condition of New York as respects military efficiency was deplorable. She was divided against herself, and, as usual in such cases, party passion was stronger than the demands of war. The province was in the midst of one of those disputes with the representative of the Crown, which, in one degree or another, crippled or paralyzed the military activity of nearly all the British colonies. Twenty years or more earlier, when Massachusetts was at blows with the Indians on her borders, she suffered from the same disorders; but her governor and Assembly were of one mind as to urging on the war, and quarrelled only on the questions in what way and under what command it should be waged. But in New York there was a strong party that opposed the war, being interested in the contraband trade long carried on with Canada. Clinton, the governor, had, too, an enemy in the person of the chief justice, James de Lancey, with whom he had had an after-dinner dispute, ending in a threat on the part of De Lancey that he would make the governor's seat uncomfortable. To marked abilities, better education, and more knowledge of the world than was often found in the provinces, ready wit, and conspicuous social position, the chief justice joined a restless ambition and the arts of a demagogue.
He made good his threat, headed the opposition to the governor, and proved his most formidable antagonist. If either Clinton or Shirley had had the independent authority of a Canadian governor, the conduct of the war would have been widely different. Clinton was hampered at every turn. The Assembly held him at advantage; for it was they, and not the King, who paid his salary, and they could withhold or retrench it when he displeased them. The people sympathized with their representatives and backed them in opposition, — at least, when not under the stress of imminent danger.
A body of provincials, in the pay of the King, had been mustered at Albany for the proposed Canada expedition; and after that plan was abandoned, Clinton wished to use them for protecting the northern frontier and capturing that standing menace to the province, Crown Point. The Assembly, bent on crossing him at any price, refused to provide for transporting supplies farther than Albany. As the furnishing of provisions and transportation depended on that body, they could stop the movement of troops and defeat the governor's military Hans at their pleasure. In vain he told them, “If you deny me the necessary supplies, all my endeavors must become fruitless; I must wash my own hands, and leave at your doors the blood of the innocent people.”]
He urged upon them the necessity of building forts on the two carrying-places between the Hudson and Lakes George and Champlain, thus blocking the path of war-parties from Canada. They would do nothing, insisting that the neighboring colonies, to whom the forts would also be useful, ought to help in building them; and when it was found that these colonies were ready to do their part, the Assembly still refused. Passionate opposition to the royal governor seemed to blind them to the interests of the province. Nor was the fault all on their side; for the governor, though he generally showed more selfcontrol and moderation than could have been expected, sometimes lost temper and betrayed scorn for his opponents, many of whom were but the instruments of leaders urged by personal animosities and small but intense ambitions. They accused him of treating them with contempt, and of embezzling public money; while he retorted by charging them with encroaching on the royal prerogative and treating the representative of the King with indecency. Under such conditions an efficient conduct of the war was out of the question.
1 Extract from the Governor's Message, in Smith, History of New York, ii. 124 (1830).