Glimpses of the Past Part 37

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"James White, Esq.

A crisis now rapidly developed. John Allan prevailed on the Indians to return the British flag to Fort Howe and to send in a declaration of war. The Indians even went so far as to take several English vessels and to commit other acts of hostility.



The establishment of Fort Howe rendered the situation of the people at the mouth of the St. John comparatively secure, but the following summer was a very anxious and trying time to those who lived in the towns.h.i.+ps up the river. The Indians were restless and dissatisfied.

They complained bitterly of being left without a missionary, and it was in vain that Lieut. Gov. Arbuthnot and Colonel Franklin endeavored to keep them in good temper by promising that a missionary would be sent them immediately.

Most of the settlers in the towns.h.i.+ps were natives of New England, and the threatened Indian uprising was particularly terrifying to them on account of their forefathers' familiarity with the horrors of savage warfare. The Indians were supposed to be hostile only to those who were in opposition to American Independence, but it was felt that they would not be very nice in their distinctions if they once took the war path, and that the Whig might fare little better than the Tory.

The Indians had probably some grievances, but it is evident that the real disturbing influence emanated, as usual, from Machias. John Allan in his zeal for the conquest of Nova Scotia was determined to make every use of his Indian allies in order, if possible, to drive all English sympathizers from the St. John river. The formal declaration of war sent to Major Studholme was his composition. It was approved by the Maliseets at Machias and then forwarded to Aukpaque and after approval by the Indians there sent to Studholme at Fort Howe. The doc.u.ment read as follows:

"To the British Commanding Officer at the mouth of the River St.


"The Chiefs, Sachems and young men belonging to the River St.

John's have duly considered the nature of this Great War between America and Old England. They are unanimous that America is right and Old England is wrong. The River on which you are with your soldiers belongs from the most ancient times to our Ancestors, consequently is ours now, and which we are bound to keep for our posterity. You know we are Americans and that this is our Native Country: you know the King of England with his evil councillors has been trying to take away the Lands and Libertys of our Country, but G.o.d the King of Heaven, our King, fights for us and says America shall be free. It is so now in spite of all Old England and his Comrades can do.

"The great men of Old England in this country told us that the Americans would not let us enjoy our religion; this is false, not true, for America allows everybody to pray to G.o.d as they please; you know Old England never would allow that, but says you must all pray like the king and the great men of his court. We believe America now is right, we find all true they told us for our Old Father the King of France takes their part, he is their friend, he has taken the sword and will defend them. Americans is our Friends, our Brothers and Countrymen; what they do we do, what they say we say, for we are all one and the same family.

"Now as the King of England has no business, nor never had any on this River, we desire you to go away with your men in peace and to take with you all those men who has been fighting and talking against America. If you don't go directly you must take care of yourself your men and all your English subjects on this River, for if any or all of you are killed it is not our faults, for we give you warning time enough to escape. Adieu for ever.

"Machias, August 11, 1778.

"Auque Pawhaque, August 18th, 1778.

Michael Francklin was able at this critical moment effectually to check-mate the designs of John Allan. During the previous winter an express messenger had been sent to Sir Guy Carleton at Quebec to get permission for Father Bourg, the French missionary, to reside among the Indians of the River St. John. In his reply, dated February 23rd, 1778, Governor Carleton wrote that the missionary had orders to repair to Halifax in order to receive instructions for the establishment of his mission.

Just as Francklin and the missionary were about to leave Halifax they received information "that the Malecetes had plundered an English vessel, taken and ransomed another, robbed and disarmed many of the inhabitants and killed several cattle belonging to the King's Loyal subjects on the River St. John, whom they had stiled Torys, and that they had even proceeded the length to return to Fort Howe the King's Flag, accompanied with a formal declaration of war in writing."

The services of James White at this time were invaluable. As early as the 2nd of April and at various times during the summer he went among the Indians to pacify them at great personal risk, always returning unharmed. This was due to the confidence placed in him by the majority of the savages, who had long known him in the capacity of an Indian trader. Mr. White went up the river to meet the Indian war party. He found among them many of the Pen.o.bscots and Pa.s.samaquoddies under Nicholas Hawawes, a noted chief. They had been instructed by Allan to return the colors sent the previous year by Major Studholme, to ravage the country in the vicinity of Fort Howe, to take prisoners and encourage the soldiers of the garrison to desert. Allan wrote the Ma.s.sachusetts congress, "I earnestly and sincerely wish I had a hundred or two good troops at this juncture to go in boats along the sh.o.r.e to act in concert with the Indians."

Our early historian, Moses H. Perley, says that James White, unarmed and without any escort, met the war party at the head of "Long Reach"

as they were coming down the river in ninety canoes. He had a long conference with the chiefs, of whom the majority were disposed to be hostile; but Pierre Tomah, the head chief, said that before giving a final answer he must consult the Divine Being and throwing himself upon his face in the sand lay motionless for the s.p.a.ce of nearly an hour. Then rising he informed the other chiefs that he had been counselled by the Great Spirit to keep peace with King George's men.

This decision was not acceptable to several of the chiefs, and Mr.

White was still engaged in his negotiations when Colonel Francklin and Father Bourg arrived at St. John, having crossed from Annapolis in the war s.h.i.+p "Scarborough." Messengers were immediately sent up the river to Mr. White desiring him to come down at once with Pierre Tomah and the other chiefs and captains to meet Col. Francklin and the missionary Bourg, a.s.suring them of a friendly reception. Francklin also wrote a letter to the Indians, which is here given.

"Fort Howe, 14 Sep. 1778.

"To Pierre Thomas and others the Indians of the River St. John.

"BRETHREN:--According to my promise last fall I have brought with me Mr. Bourg, your Priest, to instruct you and to take care of your eternal welfare.

"BRETHREN:--I am come to heal and adjust every difference that may exist between you and your Brethren the faithful subjects of King George your father, my master.

"BRETHREN:--As my heart is good, my hands clean and my intentions as white as snow; I desire Pierre Thomas and two or three other Indians do immediately come down to Fort Howe with Mr.

White my Deputy to speak to me and to Mr. Bourg that we may settle in what manner to proceed to accomplish my good intentions towards you, and that your minds may be made easy I do hereby pledge myself that no harm shall happen to you from any of the King's Troops or others His Majesty's subjects.

"I am your affectionate Brother,

MICH. FRANCKLIN, "Superintendent of Indian Affairs."

The Indians promptly accepted the invitation and a conference was held which Francklin terms "A grand meeting of the Indians at Menaguashe in the Harbour of the River St. John near Fort Howe on Thursday, the 24th September, 1778." There were present on the part of King George the Third:--

Michael Francklin, Superintendent of Indian affairs; Major Studholme, commanding the garrison at Fort Howe; Capt. Mowatt, commanding his Majesty's s.h.i.+p Albany; Rev. Mr. Bourg, missionary to the Indians; James White, agent for Indian affairs at St. John, and several other officers and gentlemen. The Indian delegates included Pierre Tomah, supreme sachem or chief of St. John River; Francis Xavier, 2nd chief; and four captains and eight Indians, representing the Maliseets of the St. John. There were also present delegates of the Micmacs of Richibucto, Miramichi, Chignecto and Minas.

Col. Francklin informed the Indians that according to his promise he had brought them a priest and it was his desire to settle and adjust amicably all differences between the Indians and his Majesty's subjects. The proceedings of the conference are detailed at length in Francklin's report to the Governor of Nova Scotia. The Indians after listening to the addresses of Francklin and Monsieur Bourg declared that they had been deceived by John Allan of Machias who had not spoken their sentiments but his own; they acknowledged their offences and offered to restore to the white inhabitants the arms and other articles in their possession (not consumed or destroyed) which they had taken, and promised that they would deliver to James White in the course of the winter, two hundred pounds of Beaver, or as many moose skins, in lieu thereof, towards making good the damage sustained by individuals. They added that they were poor and had been kept from hunting by the idle stories of John Allan and his friends.

Michael Francklin did not lose the opportunity to give Allan "a Rowland for his Oliver." As Allan had been the author of the Indian declaration of war so would Francklin now dictate the message of reply. This message was couched in the following terms:--

"To John Allan and his a.s.sociates at Machias:

"The Chiefs and Great men of the Malecete and Mickmack Indians hereby give thee notice:--

"That their eyes are now open and they see clearly that thou hast endeavored to blind them to serve thy wicked purposes against thy lawful sovereign King George, our forgiving and affectionate Father.

"We have this day settled all misunderstanding that thou didst occasion between us and King George's men.

"We now desire that thee and Preble, and thy Comrades will remain in your wigwams at Machias and not come to Pa.s.samaquadie to beguile and disturb our weak and young Brethren. We will have nothing to do with thee or them or with your storys, for we have found you out; and if you persist in tempting us we warn you to take care of yourselves. We shall not come to Machias to do you harm, but beware of Pa.s.samaquodie for we forbid you to come there.

"At Menaguashe, the 24th September, 1778.


Pierre Thomas x, Francis Xavier x, Chiefs of the Malecetes and in their behalf. Jean Baptiste Arimph x, Chief of Richibouctou and in behalf of the Mickmacks.

During the conference Father Bourg produced a letter he had lately received from the Bishop of Quebec instructing him not to suffer any Indian to enter his Church who should molest the white settlers or take part in the rebellion against the const.i.tuted authorities of Nova Scotia, and directing him to forward a list of the names of any Indians who should disobey his orders to Quebec that he might "cast them out of the Church as disobedient and undutifull children."

The Indians were not long in deciding to make terms with the British and in signifying their willingness to take the oath of allegiance to the King. Accordingly the chiefs and captains and other delegates on their knees took a solemn oath in which they pledged themselves to bear faithful and true allegiance to his Majesty King George the Third. They also promised to give information to the King's officers and magistrates of any hostile designs of the enemy that should come to their knowledge; to protect the persons of Michael Francklin and Joseph Mathurin Bourg, their missionary, from insult, outrage or captivity; not to take any part directly or indirectly against the King in the troubles then existing, but to follow their hunting and fis.h.i.+ng in a peaceable and quiet manner; not to go to Machias or hold any communication with the people of that neighborhood or other rebellious subjects of his Majesty.

Having taken the oath in behalf of themselves and their several tribes the Indians delivered to Col. Francklin a string of Wampum as a solemn confirmation of their act and deed. They also delivered the presents sent them by Was.h.i.+ngton together with the treaty they had made with the Ma.s.sachusetts government on July 19, 1776, in which they had promised to furnish 600 warriors for the service of the United States Congress.

Although the Indians, by the treaty they had just signed, ostensibly settled all the differences between themselves and "King George's men," there were still certain functions dear to the savage heart to be performed before the grand pow-wow was ended.

The oath of allegiance having been taken and the treaty duly signed, all the chiefs and captains united with the English delegates in drinking the King's health, and Colonel Francklin decorated the chiefs and captains with his own hands and distributed to the other Indians a variety of clothing and presents. After this, we are informed, "the night, altho' rainy, was spent in the open air with great mirth under the British Flag." The next day the Indians went on board the Albany man-of-war, where they again very cheerfully drank the King's good health, and were presented with a pound of gunpowder each. They concluded the afternoon and evening on sh.o.r.e "with great satisfaction and good humor." Colonel Francklin concludes his official report of the proceedings as follows:--

"The 26th September the Indians, being on their departure, were saluted at 12 o'clock by the cannon of Fort Howe and his Majesty's s.h.i.+p Albany, and it was returned by three Huzzas and an Indian Whoop. Then the Micmac Chief made a handsome speech and delivered to the Superintendent [Francklin] a string of Wampum on behalf of the whole Micmac nation, as their seal of approbation and agreement to everything that had been transacted. This being finished, the Superintendent, Major Studholme and Rev. Mr. Bourg, were desired to seat themselves, when a Malecete captain began a song and dance in honor and praise of the Conference and those concerned therein. On his finis.h.i.+ng, a Micmac captain began another song and dance to the same purpose. The Superintendent then, with Major Studholme and the Rev. Mr. Bourg and the other Gentlemen, marched off with the Indians to the portage above the falls of the River St. John and stayed there until Mr. Bourg and the Indians embarked, when the Gentlemen on the landing were saluted by the musquetry from the Indian canoes."

During the continuance of the conference the Indians received every attention on the part of Francklin, Studholme and the white inhabitants. Francklin kept a table for their entertainment which cost him 40, and the value of the presents and supplies furnished on the occasion amounted to 537 more. The goods required were mostly obtained from the store at Portland Point and the account rendered to Francklin by William Hazen is yet in existence. It contains some curious and interesting items. The presents for the Indians included blankets, hats, ribbons, gold and silver lace, intermixed with axes, pots, kettles, knives and tobacco. Among the more expensive presents were "1 large Silver plated Cross with the figure of our Saviour on it, 3 10 0," and "1 small Gold plated Cross with the figure of our Saviour on it. 2 6 8." The heading of the account reads: "The Hon'ble Michael Francklin Esq'r., Superintendent of Indians, to Wm. Hazen Dr.

for sundrys paid and supplies furnished by his order for the use of the Indians a.s.sembled at Menaguashe, near Fort Howe, from the 13th September to 19th October, 1778." Some of the expenditures were evidently dictated by motives of policy; see for example the following:--

"Paid Dr. Sharman, surgeon at Fort Howe, for attendance and medicines to Pierre Thoma and four other sick Indians, 5 16 8.

Glimpses of the Past Part 37

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Glimpses of the Past Part 37 summary

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