Gambar halaman

reader has all the facts, within the reach of the author, and must form such conclusions as may seem just.

These people were then seated on as fertile a spot as any in the state, had good buildings on their farms, and were generally rich. Their buildings and crops were destroyed by fire, and their horses, cattle, sheep and hogs were many of them killed. Some of the people were slain by the marauders and nearly one hundred carried into captivity. The German minister and a majority of the inhabitants who followed him, saved themselves by going to the fort on the south side of the river, on the morning of the attack. The enemy burned a gristmill, probably on what is now called Starings's creek, and a sawmill within a few miles of the settlement. There were about twenty houses between Fort Kouari [Herkimer] and Fall Hill or Little Falls, on the south side of the river at this time, and eight on the north side, which were abandoned for a time when the settlement at Herkimer was destroyed.

In the following spring, April 30th, 1758, a large party of Indians and a small number of French attacked the Palatine settlement on the south side of the river, near the fort. About thirty of the inhabitants were killed, and one officer, Lieut. Hair of the rangers, was wounded slightly in the breast. The enemy were rather roughly treated when they came in contact with the rangers, having had about fifteen of their number killed and wounded. Captain Herchamer commanded the fort at this time, and on the first intimation of danger, collected within the fort all the inhabitants he could gather, before the attack was made upon the settlements, but there were several families who had fled from Henderson's purchase that spring, and with them two Indian traders by the name of Clock, and several teamsters, taking baggage to the fort, who were not notified in time, or for some other cause, did not retire to the fort before the enemy came upon them, rushed into the houses, killing and scalping all they could find. The teamsters being together in one of the houses attacked, ran up stairs and made a brave defense until the Indians were driven away by the rangers; one of them, however, John Ehel, hearing the Indians threaten to set fire to the house they were in, became frightened, jumped out of the chamber window and was killed. A woman came into the fort the next morning, who had been scalped, her nose nearly cut off, and wounded in her breast and side; and she was even then, in that mutilated condition, supposed likely to recover. She related all that happened to her until scalped, and said there were Onondaga Indians with the enemy. One or two facts are worthy of special notice. The account given of this second disaster to the Palatines, states that Capt. Herkimer or Herchamer, was notified by an Oneida Indian, at 12 o'clock, that the Indians and French were near the fort and would come down on the settlements that day, and at four o'clock the attack was made, giving only four hours to gather in the inhabitants from the different localities in the neighborhood of the fort, and some of the houses were some distance from it. Now, why was not a more timely notice given, and why were any Onondaga Indians found with the enemy making war upon this frontier settlement 1

At this period of the history of the Mohawk valley, there were nearly five hundred houses between the East Canada creek and Sir William Johnson's residence near Amsterdam, on both sides of the river, and the road or path usually traveled from Utica as far down as the East Canada creek was on the south side of the river. There was no wagon or carriage track between the two creeks at that early day.

The capture of Fort Frontenac, Kingston, C. W., by the English in 1758, and the surrender of Quebec and Fort Niagara in the following year, with a general pacification with the Indian tribes, again secured to the inhabitants of the German Flats the blessings of peace. Their surviving friends returned from captivity, and with cheerfulness and hope rebuilt their homes, replenished their stocks and prepared their fields for seed time, with a full anticipation of once more reaping the plenteous harvest in quiet.

The gloom of the past now began to fade in the brightening prospects of the future, with this little band of frontier pilgrims, whose more than fifty years of wanderings, since they left their fatherland, had not been unattended by toils, privations, sicknesses, devastations and deaths. And such deaths too as were inflicted on some of their number! Humanity, bowing in reverent submission, weeps in agony at the recital, and asks when retributive justice will be visited upon the perpetrators of such deeds; and when and how these tribulations shall have an end.

The repose and tranquility that succeeded the conquest of Canada by the English, and the general Indian pacification before alluded to, was only the calm that precedes the earthquake. In 1763, Nova Scotia, Canada, Cape Breton and other dependencies were ceded by France to the British crown, and the two Floridas by Spain, and thus Great Britain became mistress of the whole North American continent; a territory equal in extent to that of several European kingdoms. From 1689 to 1760, a period of seventy-one years, the colonies had been involved in four wars, which lasted in all, twenty-seven years, but their population had increased from two hundred thousand to nearly three millions. Agriculture had steadily advanced, and trade and commerce had greatly increased; but in arts and manufactures little progress was made, the introduction of them being opposed by the mother country. Hitherto the commercial enterprise of the colonists had encountered but few checks from the home government, and a direct trade with several of the Spanish and French colonies had been permitted, although contrary to the letter of the British navigation laws. This trade was highly beneficial to the colonists, as it enabled them to exchange their products for gold and silver and other valuable commodities, whereby they were enabled to make their remittances in payment of British manufactures, which their necessities compelled them to have, and could not be supplied from any other country. Shortly after the treaty of Paris in 1763, the spirit with which the colonists prosecuted their commercial affairs, alarmed the mercantile and shipping interests in the mother country, upon whose representations the government imposed restrictions that annihilated this trade, to the serious injury of the northern colonies. Although some modification of former restrictions subsequently took place, they were coupled with regulations and the exaction of duties to raise a revenue in America, which the colonists considered dangerous innovations. The people of the colonies were not relieved and their fears were greatly excited in consequence of the novel principles attempted to be engrafted upon the British constitution by the enactment of laws of this description. The British national debt had become enormous for that period, and it was found necessary to provide means for diminishing the burthen, and the idea of raising a substantial revenue in the colonies from taxes imposed by parliament was conceived, and laws to carry it into effect were passed. The causes that produced collision with the mother country and eventuated in the independence of the American colonies, can not be minutely traced in a work of this character. The colonies insisted they were members of the British empire and could not be taxed without their consent; that representation and taxation were inseparable; and that this was a fundamental principle of the British constitution.

Lord Camden, in a debate in the house of peers on one of these tax bills, uttered the following emphatic and impressive language: "My position," said he,"is this; I repeat it; I will maintain it to my last hour: Taxation and representation are inseparable. This position is founded on the laws of nature. It is more, it is an eternal law of nature. For, whatever is a man's own, no other man has a right to take from him without his consent, and whoever does it commits a robbery." And Mr. Pitt said in the house of commons: "You have no right to tax America. I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of our fellow subjects so lost to every sense of virtue, as tamely to give up their liberties, would be fit instruments to make slaves of the rest." These sentiments, couched in language so bold and nervous, were not slow in reaching the ears of a deeply interested audience. The distinguished and liberal British statesmen who uttered them, did not, perhaps, imagine they were speeding a ball that was so soon to strike from the British crown one of its brightest jewels.

It may not be out of place here to remark, that Sir William Johnson was highly esteemed, and no doubt justly, by his neighbors of the lower Mohawk valley, and exercised over many of them an unbounded influence. On his death that esteem and regard was transferred to his family, who did not fail to exert their influence among their friends and dependants, in all matters relating to the approaching conflict. Quite a number of the people then living at and near Johnstown, Fort Hunter and other parts of Tryon county, left it with Sir John Johnson and Guy Johnson, and went to Canada; the descendants of some of them may now be found settled on the shores of Lake Ontario, between Niagara and Burlington Heights, Hamilton; and others in different parts of Upper Canada. These were followed by others, disaffected, who left during the revolutionary war.

The Palatines at the German Flats, were seated at some distance from Sir William, and had comparatively but little intercourse with him. They knew him as an officer of the government, and not as a neighbor and friend. They had but few opportunities of intercourse with his family, and consequently were not influenced by them in regard to the difficulties between the colonies and the mother country.

If any efforts were made to detach them from their allegiance to the country, those efforts were not attended

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »