Слике страница
PDF
ePub

1753]

HIS RETURN FROM THE FRENCH FORTS.

159

Ohio valley. No course was left the young ambassador but to go on to Waterford; and this he did through mire and swamp, and across rivers rendered almost impassable by the rains and snows of December. He found the fort strongly defended. Many pine boats and bark canoes were in readiness for the contemplated expedition in the spring. St. Pierre (peer], the commandant of the post, sought not to disguise his intentions. He was there, he said, by the orders of his general, and according to those orders he should destroy every English post on the Ohio. Unable to shake his resolution, Washington prepared to go back; but his Indian companions had been so wrought upon with threats, flatteries, and rum, that the Half King alone remained faithful. St. Pierre tried every means to detain the Red Men and win them over from the English; it was only by skilful management that Washington baffled his efforts.

The home journey was full of dangers and difficulties. Intense cold and violent storms set in. The horses having become disabled, it was found necessary to go afoot, while the labor of walking was greatly increased by the deep snow with which the ground was covered. The streams were swollen, and to cross them amid the drifting ice was toilsome and perilous. The life of the youthful hero seems to have been preserved almost miraculously. At one time, he was fired

upon at a distance of fifteen paces by an Indian in ambush; at another, he was jerked from a rude raft into the angry waters of the Alleghany. Yet, amid these dangers, he was saved for greater things.

Seldom has so important a mission been intrusted to one so young, and never was mission more faithfully performed. Washington could not induce the French to abandon their claim. to the Ohio valley; but he learned all that his government wanted to know respecting their designs and the strength of the forts he visited. Through deserters from New Orleans, he gained much valuable information concern

at Logstown ? Where did Washington then go ? Give an account of his interview with the French commandants at Venango and Waterford. Who had accompanied him ? On preparing to return, what did Washington find had been

ing the French posts on the Mississippi; and during the whole expedition he conducted himself with a discretion and gallantry which gave high promise of future usefulness.

CHAPTER XXX.

COMMENCEMENT OF THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR.

234. THE report of Washington roused the colonists to action. In accordance with his recommendation, the Ohio company commenced the construction of a fort at the junction of the Alleghany and the Monongahela, on the present site of Pittsburg; and Gov. Dinwiddie despatched a body of men to protect the laborers. The death of their colonel on the march threw the command into the hands of Washington. The progress of the party through the heavy roads of the wilderness was necessarily slow; and, before they had performed half the journey, the unfinished work, together with thirty-three men engaged on it, was taken by the French. The latter went on with the building, and speedily erected a strong fortress, which they called Du Quesne [du kane), after the new governor of Canada.

This placed the Indian allies of the English in a critical position. The Half King sent an express to Washington, imploring him to come to their aid. This he was doing, as fast as he could cut roads and drag over them the cannon and powder that had been designed for the new fort. On some parts of the route, a day's march carried him no more than a couple of miles. When within a short distance of the French, he hastily constructed a stockade, to which he gave the appropriate name of Fort Necessity, throwing up with

done to his companions ? Describe the home journey. What dangers did Washington encounter ? What is said of this mission? How was it performed ? What information did Washington obtain ?

234. What was the effect of Washington's report? Where was a fort com. menced? What measures were taken for the protection of the laborers? How were these measures defeated? What did the French do with the unfinished fort? What was now the situation of the Indian allies of the English? What message did Washington receive ? Describe his march. What fort did he build ?

1754]

WASHINGTON SURPRISES THE FRENCH.

161

his own hands the first shovelful of earth. This done, he continued his march, and soon had the pleasure of meeting the faithful Half King. A council is held. The chief announces that the French are near at hand in strong force, lying in wait for the wearied Virginians. A night attack is forthwith concerted. The trail of the enemy is found, and leads Washington and his companions, in Indian file, through the impenetrable darkness of a rainy night, to a camp concealed among the rocks, where they are resting in fancied security. Suddenly alarmed, the French rush to their guns, but at the instant Washington orders his men to Fire !” and discharges his own musket. Hardly for fifteen minutes is the contest protracted. Jumonville [zhoo-mong-veel'], the French leader, is slain, with nine of his comrades, and twentyone prisoners fall into the hands of the English.

Washington had expected reënforcements, as well from the colonies as from the friendly Indians of Ohio. Messengers were sent to hasten their arrival; but only one company came, and they proved rather an encumbrance than an aid, their commander foolishly claiming precedence of the colonial leader because he held his commission from the king. With anxiety Washington heard that the French were concentrating around him, and at last he fell back on Fort Necessity. Here his little band was besieged by 600 Frenchmen and 100 Indians. After a severe fight, which lasted nine hours, the French, though they had gained decided advantages, proposed a parley, and agreed that Washington and his men should march out with the honors of war, retaining their stores and baggage. On the evacuation of this post (1754), no English flag waved west of the Alleghanies.

235. Meanwhile, the necessity of united action on the part of all the English colonies had become obvious. A meeting of delegates from Virginia and every colony north of the

Whom did he soon meet? What was the result of their interview ? Give an account of the battle. How many were slain and captured ? Whence had Washington expected reënforcements? How many companies arrived ?

What is said of it? What awakened Washington's anxiety? What was he compelled to do? By how many French and Indians was he besieged ? Give an account of the siege and its result. 235. What important meeting was held in June, 1754? What

Potomac, was held at Albany in June, 1754. One of the leading objects proposed was to conciliate the Iroquois, who had been invited to the council. Many of their chiefs appeared, including the great Mohawk, Hendrick. While they accepted the proffered pledge of peace, the Iroquois braves warned the English of impending dangers, and complained of their tardiness in erecting fortifications. The delegates promised more vigorous action, and the Indians departed, apparently satisfied, but really discouraged by the want of energy and promptness displayed by their allies.

The council now had leisure to discuss the proposed union. A plan brought forward by Benjamin Franklin was after some debate adopted. By its provisions, a congress was to assemble annually at Philadelphia, composed of from two to seven delegates from each colony, according to its size. This congress was to originate all laws and appoint civil officers, to issue money, deal with the Indians, regulate trade, govern new settlements, raise soldiers, and levy taxes, all its acts being subject to the veto of a governor-general appointed by the crown.

Each colony was to have its own legislature, and to be independent in its internal affairs. Such was the plan of union to be laid before the individual colonies for their adoption.

236. As the author of this important measure comes prominently before us, it will be well to glance at his previous history. Benjamin Franklin was born at Boston, January 17th, 1706. His father, a manufacturer of soap and candles, wished to give the young Benjamin a liberal education with the view of preparing him for the ministry; but his means failed, and he took his son, at the age of ten, into his own establishment, where he employed him in cutting wicks and filling candle-moulds. An ardent thirst for knowledge led our hero to spend every leisure moment in reading, and even to rob himself of sleep that he might con such volumes of trav

was one of its leading objects? Who made their appearance at the council? Of what did the Iroquois chiefs complain ? How were they partially appeased ? What next engaged the attention of the council? Who proposed a plan of union ? What action was taken on it? Mention its chief provisions. 236. When and

1718]

EARLY LIFE OF FRANKLIN.

163

els and history as fell in his way. At twelve, he was apprenticed to an elder brother, to learn the art of printing; but, aggrieved by the harsh treatment of the latter, he resolved to leave his native city without the knowledge of his friends, and try his fortune among strangers. The sale of his little stock of books furnished him with the means of travelling. His first stopping-place was New York. Here there was no encouragement to remain, and he continued his journey to Philadelphia, which he reached with a single dollar in his pocket. Refreshing himself with a penny roll and a draught of water from the Delaware, his first care was to seek employment.

Our young adventurer, now seventeen, succeeded in getting a situation in one of the two printing-offices in Philadelphia, and from this time steadily and rapidly advanced. He perfected his knowledge of printing, and learned much of the world, by a residence of eighteen months in London; after which he returned to Philadelphia, gained many new friends, and set up a printing-office of his own. We find him every succeeding year extending his influence, and trying to disseminate information among the people. He founded the first circulating library in America, about 1730. In 1732, he commenced his celebrated “Poor Richard's Almanac”, which he continued for twenty-five years. In 1736, he originated the American Philosophical Society, and became clerk of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania.

The fame of Franklin was not confined to America. His discoveries in electricity gained him the highest respect among the scientific men of Europe. He introduced various improvements in the Leyden jar, and was the first to magnetize steel needles and fire gunpowder by electricity. A series of observations led him to believe that thunder and

where was Franklin born? Give an account of his youth. At twelve, to whom was he apprenticed? How was he treated? What did he conclude to do? How did he get the means of travelling? Where did he go? What did he do, on arriving at Philadelphia ? How old was he? What employment did he find ? Where did he afterwards go? On his return to Philadelphia, what did he do ? In 1730 and 1732, what enterprises did he embark in? What did he do in 1736 ? In what branch of natural science was Franklin distinguished ? Enumerate some of his discoveries. What opinion did he hold with respect to thunder and

« ПретходнаНастави »