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THÉ ALBANY CONVENTION.
UNITE OR DIE
140. The Albany Convention ; Benjamin Franklin's Snake; General Braddock. — Matters now looked so serious that a convention of the Northern colonies met at Albany (1754) to consider what should be done. The Iroquois Indians, who were stanch friends of the English, sent some of their people to the convention, and warned the colonists that if they did not take up arms, the French would drive every Englishman out of the country. Benjamin Franklin, delegate from Pennsylvania, headed an appeal in his paper, the Pennsylvania Gazette, with a rude woodcut, which told its own story. It represented the colonies in the form of a snake cut in pieces, with the motto, “ Unite or die.” Franklin furthermore proposed an excellent plan for banding the colonies together for self-protection, but it was not adopted.”
The next year (1755) England sent over General Braddock with a body of troops to drive the French out of the Ohio Valley. He was a good soldier, but did everything by rule. He and his men could fight any enemy that would meet them openly face to face; but he did not know how to fight the French and Indians, whose plan was to hide in the forest, and fire from behind trees.
Braddock might have got useful hints from either Franklin or Washington, but he scorned consulting men who had never been regularly trained in the European arts of war.
141. Braddock's Defeat; Washington.- He advanced from Alexandria, Virginia, across the mountains to attack Fort Duquesne. Washington accompanied him. All went well until the British army had nearly reached the fort. Suddenly a savage yell rose from the woods through which the men were marching, followed by a murderous volley of musket-shots which killed many. The English general did everything a brave man could to repel the attack, but it was useless. Both he and his army were simply “a living target to an unseen foe.” A panic set in; the men ran like sheep, and were shot down as they ran. Finally Braddock, who was himself mortally wounded, had to order a retreat. A few days later he died, and was secretly buried at night. Colonel Washington read the funeral service over his grave by torchlight.
1 Delegate : a representative, a person sent to act for others.
2 Franklin's plan was rejected by the English government as too democratic (though the colonists thought it not democratic enough). Even then, the authorities in England " dreaded American union as the keystone of independence." Part of Franklin's plan was for the colonies to send representatives to the English Parliament.
It was said in Virginia that Braddock lost the victory, but that Washington's coolness and courage saved the army. It was true; for without Washington's aid the defeat would have become a massacre. An eminent Virginia clergyman, who preached on the disaster shortly afterward, said of Washington, that he believed that “ Providence had saved him for some more important service to his country."
142. Pitt and Victory; Capture of Fort Duquesne; the French driven back to Canada. In the course of the next two years the English took the French province of New Brunswick, and drove many thousands of Acadians, or French inhabitants of Nova Scotia, into exile. But up to 1758 the war languished. Then a great change took place. William Pitt, later known as Lord Chatham, had now become the chief councillor in the English government. He was a man of immense energy, of spotless integrity, and one of the truest friends that America ever had. He sent fresh troops to fight for the colonists; and, what was better, he seemed to inspire them with his own spirit. Louisburg was now retaken, never to be given back. Then a second expedition was sent against Fort Duquesne. Colonel Washington took part in it as before. The fort was captured, and named Fort
1 Longfellow has made this exile of the 7,000 Acadians the subject of his famous poem of “ Evangeline." Burke called the expulsion "an inhuman act,” but recent investigation seems to show that the English were justified in driving out the French farmers, since they steadfastly refused to take the oath of allegiance to England, and meanwhile their sons were secretly fighting against her.
Pitt in honor of the distinguished statesman who had made the victory possible. To-day we know the place as Pittsburgh, the centre of the most extensive iron works in the United States.
This victory gave the English the control of the Ohio country. Then, by the help of his Iroquois “braves," Sir William Johnson of Johnson Hall, New York, took Fort Niagara. Next, the French were compelled to give up Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point on Lake Champlain, and were driven back to Canada.
Old Quebec. 143. Fall of Quebec; Pontiac's Conspiracy. – The French had lost Fort Frontenac (Kingston), but they still held Quebec; and so long as they had possession of that formidable stronghold, they could continue to threaten the American colonies. The fortress was built on a lofty rock, overlooking the St. Lawrence. It was rightly believed to be one of the strongest in the world ; in fact, the “Gibraltar of America.” Montcalm, one of the ablest and noblest generals of France, held the fortress. General Wolfe, an English soldier of equal character and courage, undertook to wrest it from him. The death-struggle came in the autumn of 1759. In the terrible battle both commanders found the truth of the words, “The paths of glory lead but to the grave, Wolfe quoted to his brother officers on the eve of the contest; for both were killed. They met death as only heroes can. The English general exclaimed when he heard that his men had gained
1 Johnson Hall, near Schenectady. Sir William and his son had unbounded influence over the Iroquois tribes, and at this period they used that influence for the advantage of the colonies.
2 Gray's “ Elegy written in a Country Churchyard" 1749. 'Gentlemen," said Wolfe to his officers, “I would rather have written those lines than take Quebec.”
the hard-fought field, “Now, God be praised, I will die in peace.” The French leader, when told that he must soon breathe his last, said, “So much the better, I am happy that I shall not live to see the surrender of Quebec.”
The fall of Quebec practically ended the war; but four years later, Pontiac, chief of a Michigan tribe and friendly to the French, rose in revolt. He formed a secret league with other tribes, the Iroquois refusing to join, — to drive the English from the whole Western country. A young Indian girl betrayed the plot to the commander of the fort at Detroit. Pontiac's attack failed, though many frontier settlers were massacred, and he himself was forced to beg for peace. It was the last general attempt on the part of the Indians to reconquer the land that the white man had taken from them.
144. What the French and Indian War settled. The fall of Quebec was a turning-point in American history. When Wolfe with his brave men climbed the rocky heights back of that great fortress on a starlight autumn night of 1759, the whole West, from Quebec to the Mississippi and New Orleans, belonged to France.
When the sun went down the following day, France had lost her hold on America forever. By the treaty of peace of 1763 the French king gave up the whole of his possessions in this country to England. Of all the magnificent territory that he had held on this continent, nothing was left that he could call his own but two little barren islands off the coast of Southern Newfoundland' which the English permitted him to keep, to dry fish on.
The war settled the fact that America was not to be an appendage of France, but was to become the home of the chief part of the English-speaking race. Spain had owned Florida since its discovery by Ponce de Leon ? more than two centuries and a half. She had fought on the side of France against England : now that France was defeated Spain was forced to give up Florida to Great Britain ; so that by the end of 1763 the flag of England and
1 Islands of Miquelon and St. Pierre.
2 See Paragraph 18.
THE THIRTEEN COLONIES IN 1763.
of the English colonies floated over the whole eastern section of this continent, from the Atlantic to the great river of the West, with the single exception of New Orleans, which, with the Louisiana territory west of the Mississippi, was transferred by France to Spain.
145. Results of the Wars. — The long series of wars between the English and the French in this country accomplished four great results : 1. They united the inhabitants of the colonies — especially of those north of the Carolinas - and inspired them with new strength. 2. They trained thousands of resolute men in the use of arms, and to face an enemy; and thus, in a measure, prepared them for the war of Independence not many years distant. 3. By removing all danger of attack by the French they made the colonists feel less need of British protection. 4. They cleared the ground east of the Mississippi of rival and hostile forces, and so left it open for our ancestors to lay — when the right time came the corner-stone of the United States.
GENERAL STATE OF THE COUNTRY IN 1763.
146. The Thirteen Colonies in 1763; Growth of the Country; Number and Character of the Population. - The growth of the colonies from the first settlements in 16077 and 1620? to the end of the French and Indian War had been slow but steady. When a gardener finds that a healthy young plant shows but little progress, he is not discouraged. He says cheerfully, “It is all right; it is making roots, and will last the longer." For a century and a half the colonies had been “making roots," — getting that firm hold so necessary for the future growth of a free and powerful nation.
In 1763 the entire population probably did not greatly exceed that of New York City now. Of this about one-sixth were negro
1 See Paragraph 47.
2 See Paragraph 73. 8 The date of England's treaty of peace with France.
4 No exact estimate of the population can be given, as the first census was not taken until 1790. It was probably about 1,800,000.