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cause, to flash into fury; nor did they do this, but encouraged them, whenever an occasion offered, to repel the advancing English with torch and hatchet; in fact, we may largely ascribe to French machinations the cruel wars, which, in the latter half of the seventeenth and the first half of the eighteenth centuries, at times laid waste some of the fairest portions of New England, and subjected her sons and daughters to suffering and death.
A treaty with the savages at Casco in 1678 afforded encouragement to the poor people, who were laboring patiently and with a fortitude not often equaled, to build their humble homes in the wilderness; but, it was a peace haunted at all times by threatening phantoms, which they felt at any minute might assume substance and form, and destroy all that they cherished at a blow. For ten years of uncertain peace they continued to build and plant, gaining confidence as time passed, when suddenly they were startled by the alarm of war.
In the spring of 1688, Andros, the governor of Massachusetts, visited Pemaquid, and held a conference with the savages there, in which he warned them against French influence. On his
On his way thither he had stopped at the trading post of Baron Castin, which was, as he claimed, on English territory, and
seized a quantity of merchandise. This act gave a keener edge to Castin's enmity to the English, and his popularity with the savages caused them to espouse his cause, hence they at once began reprisals.
Wishing to avoid war, Andros issued a conciliatory proclamation, and to show his good will, proceeded to liberate a number of Indian prisoners, hoping that the savages, appreciating his magnanimous example, would release their English captives, and come to an amicable understanding ; but, in this he was disappointed, for disregarding his generous conduct, they not only treated their English prisoners with great cruelty, but killed several of them, which forced him to take the field against them.
This was the condition of affairs when a revolution in England sent James the Second, a staunch Papist, an exile to France, which placed the English colonists, on account of their active sympathy with the movement, to the eyes of his French friends, in the position of rebels, and worse still, of heretical rebels.
With this feeling pervading the French court, Count Frontenac, who, seven years before, had been for good reasons deposed from the governorship of New France, was recalled to court, where one of the most diabolical plots ever conceived against a people was secretly elaborated. This was to make an attack from Canada on Albany, and having seized that place to proceed down the Hudson to New York, which, with the aid of two French ships, it was believed, would be forced to speedily surrender. This accomplished, the heretics were to be removed root and branch; their homes were to be broken up, their property confiscated, and those who survived were to be driven beyond the limits of French rule. If any possessed means which could be wrung from them for ransom, they were to be imprisoned until they purchased their liberty, while artisans were to be held in captivity, and forced to labor for their French masters. One class of persons only was to be allowed to remain and enjoy their property ; namely, Roman Catholics.
1 Vide The Andros Tracts, Boston, 1868, vol. 2, p. 118.
New England was also to be invaded, and of course, subjected to a like fate if the saints smiled on the enterprise.
This atrocious plan to destroy an entire people,
1 Vide Instruction à Mons. De Frontenac sur l'entreprise contre les Anglois, 7 Juin, 1689, in Collection de Manuscrits, etc., relatifs a la Nouvelle France. Quebec, 1883, vol. 1, p. 455 et seq., and Documentary History of Maine, vol. 5.
said to have numbered over seventeen thousand, happy in the possession of homes hardly won, was carefully elaborated in the luxurious halls of Versailles, and early in 1689, Frontenac sailed from Rochelle to carry it into effect.
It was late in the season when Frontenac, who had met with unexpected delays, reached Quebec, where he found the government under Denonville in a disorganized condition. To get the savages under control so as to use them against the English was his first effort, and in this he was unsuccessful so far as regarded the Iroquois and other tribes west of the English settlements, but with the Eastern tribes, the case was different. The Jesuits had become influential in shaping the affairs of the government, and they exercised a powerful control over these tribes, who were, as we have seen, hostile to the English ; indeed, if we may believe Denonville, the predecessor of Frontenac, they had been encouraged by Jesuit influences in their recent outbreak against the frontier settlers. The proof of this appears in a letter of the French governor to the king, dated shortly after Frontenac's arrival at Quebec. In this letter he says: “The good understanding which I have had with these savages by means of the Jesuits, and above all the two fathers, the Brothers Bigot,'
has made successful all the attacks, which they have made on the English this summer,” in which attacks, he concludes, “they have killed more than two hundred men,” and this in a time of peace between the two nations. 1
The Bigot brothers had established on the Chau. dière an Abnaki mission, and had extended their influence into Maine, where Father Thury had established himself on the Penobscot, and was exercising a powerful control over the savages of that region; accompanying their war parties against the settlers and thereby identifying himself with them.
It was in this condition of affairs that Frontenac, in the winter of 1690, organized the scheme intrusted to him for exterminating the English “heretics and trait
” from American soil. To accomplish this, three war parties of Frenchmen and savages were set in motion from different points in Canada toward the devoted settlements; one to fall upon Albany, another
1 Pères James and Vincent Bigot, the former born in 1644, died in 1711; the latter born in 1647, died in 1720. Vide Histoire et Description Generale de la Nouvelle France, à Paris, 1744, Tome 2, p. 419. Resumé des rapports du Canada avec les notes du ministre, Collection de Manuscrits, etc., vol. I, p. 474 et seq.