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the Governor left Clarksville, however, he sent to Major Hamtramck, the commanding officer at Post Vincennes, despatches containing speeches which were addressed to the Indian tribes on the Wabash. Among the despatches there was also a letter (dated “Fort Steuben, Jan. 23, 1790,") which contained the following instructions:
“It is with great pain that I have heard of the scarcity of corn which reigns in the settlements about the Post [Vincennes.] I hope it has been exaggerated; but it is represented to me that unless a supply of that article can be sent forward, the people must actually starve. Corn can be had here in any quantity: but can the people pay for it? I entreat you to enquire into that matter, and if you find they cannot do without it, write to the Contractor's Agent here, to whom I will give orders to send forward such quantity as you may find to be absolutely necessary. They must pay for what they can of it; but they must not be suffered to perish: and though I have no direct authority from the government for this purpose, I must take it upon myself.”
Governor St. Clair, on his arrival at Kaskaskia early in the year 1790, laid out the county of St. Clair, appointed magistrates, and other civil officers, and, by a proclamation issued in March, directed the inhabitants to exbibit to him their titles and claims to the lands which they held, in order that they might be confirmed in their possessions. A considerable number of claims and title deeds were accordingly exhibited, examined, and decided upon; and orders of survey for such as were found authentic were issued; which was necessary to be done before patents of confirmation could be made out.* The Governor, in a report which he made to the Secretary of State, in 1790, said —“Orders of survey were issued for all the claims at Kaskaskia, that appeared to be founded agreeably to the resolutions of Congress; and surveys were made of the greater part of them. A part only of those surveys, however, have been returned, because the people objected to paying the surveyor, and it is too true that they are ill able to pay.
*Report of Governor St. Clair, 1790.
“ The Ilinois country, as well as that upon the Wabash, has been involved in great distress ever since it fell under the American dominion. With great cheerfulness the people furnished the troops under General [George Rogers] Clark, and the Illinois regiment, with every thing they could spare, and often with much more than they could spare with any convenience to themselves. Most of the certificates for these supplies are still in their hands, unliquidated and unpaid; and, in many instances where application has been made for payment to the state of Virginia, under whose authority the certificates were granted, it has been refused. The Illinois regiment being disbanded, a set of men pretending the authority of Virginia, embodied themselves, and a scene of general depredation and plunder ensued. To this succeeded three successive and extraordinary inundations from the Mississippi, which either swept away their crops, or prevented their being planted. The loss of the greatest part of their trade with the Indians, which was a great resource, came upon them at this juncture, as well as the hostile incursions of some of the tribes which had ever before been in friendship with them: and to these was added the loss of their whole last crop of corn by an untimely frost. Extreme misery could not fail to be the consequence of such accumulated misfortunes.”
At this period the miserable condition of the French inhabitants about Kaskaskia and Cahokia, was pathetically described in a memorial which was dated “St. Clair County, June 9th, 1790,” addressed “ To His Excellency Arthur St. Clair, Governor and Commander in chief of the Territory of the United States northwest of the River Ohio," and signed by “P. Gibault, Priest," * and eighty-seven others. The following is an extract from the memorial:
“ The memorial humbly sheweth that by an act of Congress of June 20th, 1788, it was declared that the lands heretofore possessed by the said inhabitants should be surveyed at their expense; and that this clause appears to them neither neces-
The same ecclesiastic, who, in 1778, visited Post Vincennes in the capacity of a messenger from General Clark, and as a devoted friend of the United States.
sary nor adapted to quiet the minds of the people. It does not appear necessary, because from the establishment of the colony to this day, they have enjoyed their property and possessions without disputes or lawsuits on the subject of their limits: that the surveys of them were made at the time the concessions were obtained from their ancient Kings, Lords and Commandants; and that each of them knew what belonged to him without attempting an encroachment on his neighbor, or fearing that his neighbor would encroach on him. It does not appear adapted to pacify them, because, instead of assuring to them the peaceable possession of their ancient inheritances, as they have enjoyed it till now, that clause obliges them to bear expenses which, in their present situation, they are absolutely incapable of paying, and for the failure of which they must be deprived of their lands.
“ Your Excellency is an eye witness of the poverty to which the inhabitants are reduced, and of the total want of provisions to subsist on. Not knowing where to find a morsel of bread to nourish their families, by what means can they support the expense of a survey which has not been sought for on their parts, and for which, it is conceived by them, there is no necessity ? Loaded with misery, and groaning under the weight of misfortunes, accumulated since the Virginia troops entered their country, the unhappy inhabitants throw themselves under the protection of your Excellency, and take the liberty to solicit you to lay their deplorable situation before Congress; and, as it may be interesting for the United States to know exactly the extent and limits of their ancient possessions in order to ascertain the lands which are yet at the disposal of Congress, it appears to them, in their humble opinion, that the expense of the survey ought more properly to be borne by Congress, for whom alone it is useful, than by them who do not feel the necessity of it. Besides, this is no object for the United States; but it is great, too great, for a few unhappy beings who, your Excellency sees yourself, are scarcely able to support their pitiful existence.”
On the 5th of April, 1790, by order of Major Hamtramck, Antoine Gamelin started from Post Vincennes with the speeches addressed by Governor St. Clair to the Wabash Indians. Mr. Gamelin delivered the speeches at all the principal Indian villages lying near to the borders of the river Wabash, and as far eastward as the Miami village of Ke-ki-ong-gay, which stood at the junction of the rivers St. Joseph and St. Mary's, about the site which is now occupied by the town of Fort Wayne. An extract from the journal * of the messenger, Gamelin, will serve, in part, to show the feelings with which the Indians regarded the overtures of peace that were made to them by Governor St. Clair.
“The first village I arrived to [says Mr. Gamelin) is called Kikapouguoi. The name of the chief of this village is called Les Jambes Croches. Him and his tribe have a good heart, and accepted the speech. The second village is at the river du Vermillion, called Piankeshaws. The first chief, and all the warriors, were well pleased with the speeehes concerning the peace: but they said they could not give presently a proper answer, before they consult the Miami nation, their eldest brethren. They desired me to proceed to the Miami town, [Ke-ki-ong-gay,) and, by coming back, to let them know what reception I got from them. The said head chief told me that he thought the nations of the lake had a bad heart, and were ill disposed for the Americans: that the speeches would not be received, particularly by the Shawanees at Miamitown. * *
*On the 17th of May, 1790, before Major Hamtramck, at Post Vincennes, Mr. Gamelin, being put on his oath, swore that the statements contained in his journal were true.
The 11th of April I reached a tribe of Kickapoos. The head chief and all the warriors being assembled, I gave them two branches of white wampum, with the speeches of His Excellency Arthur St. Clair, and those of Major Hamtramck. It must be observed that the speeches have been in another hand before me.
The messenger could not proceed further than the Vermillion, on account of some private wrangling between the interpreter and some chief men of the tribe. Moreover, something in the speech displeased them very much, which is included in the third article, which says, 'I do now make you the offer of peace: accept it, or reject it, as you please. These words appeared to displease all the tribes to whom the first messenger was sent. They told me they were menacing; and finding that it might have a bad effect, I took upon myself to exclude them; and, after making some apology, they answered that he and his tribe were pleased with my speech, and that I could go up without danger, but they could not presently give me an answer, having some warriors absent, and without consulting the Ouiatenons, being the owners of their lands. They desired me to stop at Quitepiconnæ, [Tippecanoe,] that they would have the chiefs and warriors of Oujatenons and those of their nation assembled there, and would receive a proper an
They said that they expected by me a draught of milk from the great chief, and the commanding officer of the Post, for to put the old people in good humor; also some powder and ball for the young men for hunting, and to get some good broth for their women and children: that I should know a bearer of speeches should never be with empty hands. They promised me to keep their young men from stealing, and to send speeches to their nations in the prairies for to do the
“ The 14th April the Ouiatenons and the Kickapoos were assembled. After my speech one of the head chiefs got up and told me—“ You, Gamelin, my friend, and son-in-law, we are pleased to see in our village, and to hear by your mouth, the good words of the great chief. We thought to receive a few words from the French people; but I see the contrary.