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For a violation of the game laws of the hunting nations, in not leaving a certain number of male and female beavers in each pond, they subdued and nearly destroyed the Illinois ;* and they appeared to have accurate notions of the rights of belligerents over contraband articles; for they considered all military implements carried to an enemy as liable to seizure; but they went farther, and, conceiving this conduct a just ground of war, treated the persons supplying their enemies, as enemies, and devoted them to death. But the commerce in furs and peltries, produced by their intercourse with the Europeans, introduced a prolific source of contention among them, and operated like opening the box of Pandora. Those articles were eagerly sought after by the wbites, and the red men were equally desirous of possessing iron, arms, useful tools, cloths, and the other accommodations of civilized life. Before the arrival of the Europeans, furs were only esteemed for their use as clothing; but when the demand increased, and an exchange of valuable articles took place, it became extremely important to occupy the most productive hunting grounds, and to monopolize the best and the most furs. And it was sometimes the policy of the French to divert the attacks of the Iroquois from the nations with whom they traded, by instigating them to hostilities against the Southern Indians friendly to the English colonies; and at other times they excited wars between their northern allies and the Iroquois, in order to prevent the former from trading with the English, which they preferred, because they could get their goods cheaper. On the other hand, the English entangled the confederates in all their hostilities with the French and their Indian allies. The commerce in furs and
* See Garangula's Speech in Appendix, No. 1.
peltries was deemed so valuable, that no éxertion or expense was spared in order to effect a monopoly. The goods of the English were so eagerly sought after by the Indians, and so much preferred to those of the French, that the latter were compelled to procure them from the colony of New-York; from whence they were conveyed to Montreal, and distributed among the savages. It was then evident, that the English had it in their power, not only to undersell the French, but by a total interdiction of those supplies, to expel them from the trade. The enlightened policy of Gov. Burnet dictated the most energetic step, and a colonial law was passed for the purpose.* He also established trading houses, and erected a fort at Oswego, at the entrance of Onondaga river into Lake Ontario. This position was judiciously selected, not only on account of its water communication with a great part of the Iroquois territory, but for the facility with which articles could be transported to and from Schenectady ; there being but three portages in the whole route, two of which were very short. It had another decided advantage. The Indian navigation of the lakes being in canoes, is necessarily along the coast. The southern side of Lake Ontario affording a much more secure route than the northern, all the Indians who came from the great lakes, would, on their way to Canada, have to pass close by the English establishment, where they could be supplied at a cheaper rate, and at a less distance. Oswego then became one great empo. riun) of the fur trade; and its ruins now proclaim the vestiges of its former prosperity. The French perceived all the consequences of those measures, and they immediately rebuilt the fort at Niagara,
+ Colden's Five Nations, vol. 1. p. 95. p. 224, &c. Herriot's Canada, p. 174.
in order that they might have a commercial establishment two hundred miles nearer to the western Indians than that at Oswego. Having previously occupied the mouth of the Lake Ontario by Fort Frontenac, the fort at Niagara now gave them a decided advantage in point of position. The act passed by Gov. Burnet's recommendation was, under the influence of a pernicious policy, repealed by the British king. The Iroquois had adopted a determined resolution to exterminate the French. “Above these thirty years," says La Hontan," their ancient counsellors have still remonstrated to the warriors of the Five Nations, that it was expedient to cut off all the savage nations of Canada, in order to ruin the commerce of the French, and after that to dislodge them from the continent. With this view they have carried the war above four or five · hundred leagues off their country, after the destroying of several different nations.”* Charlevoix was impressed with the same opinion : “ The Iroquois,” says he, “ are desirous of exercising a species of domination over the whole of this great continent, and to render themselves the sole masters of its commerce.”+ Finding the auxiliary efforts of the English rendered abortive, their rage and fury increased, and the terror of their arms was extended accordingly. At a subsequent period, they appeared to entertain different and more enlightened views on this subject. They duly appreciated the policy of averting the total destruction of either European power; and several instances could be pointed out, by which it could be demonstrated that the balance of power, formerly the subject of so much speculation among the states
* Vol. 1. p. 270.
+ Charlevoix's Histoire Generale de la Nouvelle France, vol. I. b. 1 1. p. 487.
men of Europe, was thoroughly understood by: the Confederates in their negotiations and intercourse with the French and English colonies.
To describe the military enterprises of this people, would be to delineate the progress of a tornado or an earthquake.*
“ Wide-wasting Death, up to the ribs in blood, with giant stroke
widow'd the nations."
Destruction followed their footsteps, and whole nations subdued, exterminated, rendered tributary, expelled from their country, or mersed in their conquerors, declare the superiority and the terror of their arms. When Champlain arrived in Canada, in 1603, he found them at war with the Hurons and Algonkins. He took part and headed three expeditions against them; in two of which he was successful, but in the last he was repulsed. This unjust, and impolitic interference, laid the foundation of continual wars between the French and the Confederates. The Dutch, on the contrary, entered into an alliance with them on their first settlement of the country, which continued without interruption; and on the surrender of New York to the English in 1664, Carteret, one of the commissioners, was sent to subdue the Dutch at Fort Orange, now Albany; which having effected, he had a Conference with the confederates, and entered into a league of friendship; which continued without violation on either part.I
* For the military exploits of the Iroquois, generally speaking, see De la Potheire, La Hontan, Charlevoix, Colden, Smith, and Herriot. + Cumberland's Battle of Hastings.
Colden, vol. 1. p. 34. Smith's New York, p. 3, 31. Doug lass's Summary, vol. 2, p. 243.
The conquests of the Iroquois, previous to the discovery of America, are only known to us through the imperfect channels of tradition; but it is well authenticated, that since that memorable era, they exterminated the nation of the Eries or Erigas, on the south side of Lake Erie, which has given a name to that lake. They nearly extirpated the Andastez and the Chouanons; they conquered the Hurons, and drove them and their allies, the Ottawas, among the Sioux, on the head waters of the Mississippi, “where they separated themselves into bands, and proclaimed, wherever they went, the terror of the Iroquois.”* They also subdued the Illinois, the Miamies, the Algonkins, the Delawares, the Shawanese, and several tribes of the Abenaquis
. After the Iroquois had defeated the Hurons, in a dreadful battle fought near Quebec, the Neperceneans, who lived upon the St. Lawrence, fled to Hudson's Bay to avoid their fury. In 1649 they destroyed two Huron villages, and dispersed the nation; and afterward they destroyed another village of six hundred families. Two villages presented themselves to the Confederates, and lived with them. “ The dread of the Iroquois,” says the historian, “had such an effect up on all the other nations, that the borders of the river Ontaouis, which were long thickly peopled, became almost deserted, without its ever being known what became of the greater part of the inhabitants.”+ The Illinois fled to the westward, afi ter being attacked by the Confederates, and did not return until a general peace; and were permitted in 1760, by the Confederates, to settle in the country between the Wabash and the Scioto rivers. The
Herriot, p. + Herriot, p. 70.
| Powpall's Topogra hical Description of such Parts of North America as are described in Evan's Map. 1776, p. 42.