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For, like some moral dishes, that furnish a zest,
There are in gastronomy sages who think
The muse might appeal to the science of books,
* French orthography for the Indian name of this fish.
+ Vide · Indian Tales and Legends.'
In the year 1786, there stood upon the margin of the Ohio, near the mouth of the Miami, a small fortress, over which waved the flag of the United States. The banner was that of a confederacy which had just emerged from a successful struggle with one of the most powerful nations of the world, and over which the illustrious WasuINGTON presided as Chief Magistrate. In the eye of a military engineer, the fort would not have deserved that name, as it was a temporary structure, intended only to protect its small garrison against a sudden attack by an Indian force. It was composed of a series of log houses, opening upon an interior area, while the outer sides, closely connected, formed a quadrangular rampart, without apertures, except a single entrance, and a few loop-holes from which to discharge fire-arms. The whole presented the appearance of a single edifice, receiving light from the centre, and forming barracks for the garrison, as well as breast-works against the foe. The forest was cleared away for some hundreds of yards around, leaving an open vista, which extended to the water's edge; and a few acres inclosed in a rude fence, and planted with corn and vegetables, for the use of the soldiers, exhibited the first attempt at agriculture in that wild and beautiful region.
It will be recollected, that when the shores of the Ohio were first explored by the adventurous pioneers, no villages were found upon them; not a solitary lodge was seen along its secluded waters. The numerous and warlike tribes, whose battle-cry was often heard on the frontier, inhabited the tributary branches of the Ohio, leaving the immediate shores of that river an untenanted wilderness, rich in the glorious productions of nature, and animated only by the brute and the wild bird, by the lurking hunter and the stealthy war party. It seemed as if man had been expelled from this blooming paradise, and only invaded its flowery precincts at intervals, to war upon his fellow-man, or to ravage the pastures of the deer and the buffalo. Historians are not agreed as to the reasons of this curious arrangement; but we suppose that the Manito of the Red man had reserved this loveliest of valleys to be the happy hunting-ground of the blessed, and that though living forms were seldom seen within it, the spirits of warriors lingered here, to mourn the destiny of their race, and curse the coming of the white man.
A few adventurous pioneers from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North-Carolina, had crossed the Alleghanies, and settled at different places, far distant from each other; but these also were inland as respected the great river; the civilized man avoiding its dangerous shores on the one side, from an instinct similar to that which induced the Indian to shun a residence upon them on the other.
All the tribes inhabiting the country north of the Ohio, were at that time hostile to the American people, and beheld with great jealousy
these migrations into the west, that indicated an intention to plant a civilized population on this side of the mountains. The agents also of a foreign power, which saw with dissatisfaction the growing prosperity of the United States, deemed this a favorable moment to unite the savage tribes against our young republic, and they were accordingly instructed to address such arguments to the chiefs as would be likely to effect that object. Councils were accordingly held, at which inflammatory speeches were made, and arms and trinkets distributed by those unprincipled emissaries. consequence of these efforts, the hostile feelings of the savages, already sufficiently bitter, became greatly excited ; and at the period of which we write, a war with the combined forces of the north-western tribes seemed inevitable.
The policy of the American government was pacific. They did not aim at conquest. They desired to extend to the savages within their borders the same justice by which their foreign relations were intended to be governed. Difficult as this proposition right seem, it was not deemed impracticable. That the enterprising and intelligent population of the United States would spread out from the seaboard over the wilderness; that the savage must retire before the civilized man; that the desert must be reclaimed from a state of nature, and be subjected to the hand of art, were propositions too evident to be concealed or denied. Had the government been disposed to perpetuate the reign of barbarism over the fairest portion of our country, it could not have enforced its decree for a
purpose so inconsistent with the interests of the people, and the spirit of the age. But it never was intended that the Indian should be driven from his hunting grounds by violence; and while a necessity, strong as the law of nature, decreed the expulsion of the mere hunter, and gave dominion to art, industry, and religion, it was always proposed that the savage should be removed by negotiation, and a just price given for the relinquishment of his possessory title.
Had these counsels prevailed, humanity would have been spared the anguish and humiliation of blushing for acts of deception, and weeping over scenes of bloodshed. They did not prevail : the magnanimous policy of the government remained unaltered ; but many individuals have committed deep wrongs against the savage, while the latter, misled to their ruin by foreign interference, spurned at the offers of conciliation, the acceptance of which would have insured to them the strong protection of the nation.
Such was the posture of affairs, when the little fortress alluded to was established, at the outlet of the fertile valley of the Miami, and near the track by which the war parties approached the Ohio, in their incursions into Kentucky. The position was also that selected by Judge Symmes and others, the purchasers from Congress of a large tract of country, as the site of a future city; though a trivial accident afterward changed the locality, and placed the Queen City of the West at a point twenty miles farther up the Ohio. The fort was garrisoned by a small party of soldiers, commanded by a captain, who was almost as much insulated from the rest of the world as Alexander Selkirk in the island of Juan Fernandez.
At this sequestered spot, a treaty was to be held by commissioners
appointed by the President, with the Shawanoes, a migratory and gallant nation, which had fought from South Carolina to Pennsylvania, along the whole line of the western frontier, and whose eventful history, unless it has been lately collected by an ingenious writer who is about to publish a life of Tecumthe, remains to be written. It is enough to say of them here, that no western tribe has produced so many distinguished individuals, or carried on so constant a series of daring enterprises.
For several days previous to that appointed for holding the council, parties of Indian warriors were seen arriving, and erecting their temporary lodges at a short distance from the fort. An unwonted bustle disturbed the silence which usually reigned at this retired spot. Groups of savages, surrounding their camp-fires, passed the hours in conversation and in feasting; the tramp of horses and the barking of dogs were heard in every direction. The number of Indians assembled was much greater than was necessary, or was expected; and their disposition seemed to be any thing but pacific. Irritated by recent events, and puffed up by delusive promises of support, they wore an offended and an insolent air. Their glances were vindictive, and their thirst for vengeance scarcely concealed. No one acquainted with the savage character could doubt their intentions, or hesitate for a moment to believe that they only waited to ripen their plan of treachery, and at a moment which should be most favorable to their purpose, to butcher every white man in their power.
The situation of the garrison was very precarious. The fort was a slight work, which might be readily set on fire, and the number of Americans was too small to afford the slightest chance of success in open fight against the numerous force of the Shawanoes. hope for safety was in keeping them at a distance ; but this was inconsistent with the purpose of meeting them in council, to treat for peace.
Both parties held separate councils on the day previous to that appointed for the treaty. That of the Indians was declamatory and boisterous. The caution with which they usually feel their way, and the secrecy that attends all their measures, seem to have been abandoned. They had probably decided on their course, and deeming their enemy too weak to oppose any serious opposition, were declaiming upon their wrongs, for the purpose of lashing each other into that state of fury which would give relish for the horrid banquet at hand, by whetting the appetite for blood. The American commissioners saw with gloomy forebodings these inauspicious movements, and hesitated as to the proper course to be pursued. To treat with savages thus numerically superior, bent on treachery, and intoxicated with an expected triumph, seemed to be madness. To meet them in council, would be to place themselves at the mercy of ruthless barbarians, whose system of warfare justified and inculcated every species of stratagem, however disingenuous. To close the gate of the fortress, and break up the negociation, would be at the same time a declaration of war, and an acknowledgment of weakness, which would produce immediate hostilities. In either case, this little band of Americans stood alone, dependent on their own courage and sagacity only, and cut off from all hope of support. They were far beyond
the reach of communication with any American post or settlement. Under these circumstances, it was proposed to postpone the treaty, upon some plausible pretence, and to endeavor to amuse the Indians, while the utmost diligence should be used in preparing the fort for a siege : and in this opinion all concurred, save one ; and happily, that one was a master spirit, the Promethean fire of whose genius seldom failed to kindle up in other bosoms the courage that glowed in his own.
That man was Colonel GEORGE ROGERS CLARKE. Clarke was a Virginian, of high spirit, and of consummate skill as a military leader. A series of daring exploits, evincing a brilliant genius in their conception, executed with accuracy and energy, and terminating in successful results, had placed bis name in the first class of our revolutionary heroes. It was said of him, by one who had followed him in battle, · He was the bravest man I ever knew; bis courage was governed by a wisdom that bore him through whatever he undertook, in security and triumph; and one could only see after the event, that it partook not of rashness vor presumption, although it bore that appearance.' The truth was, that this remarkable man, to the gallant spirit that belonged to him as a native of Virginia, added a knowledge of human nature, that enabled him to read and control the minds around him, and a promptness
purpose, that no ordinary obstacle could obstruct.
Whatever might have been the real opinion of Colonel Clarke on this occasion, he treated the idea of danger with ridicule, and insisted calmly, cheerfully, eren playfully, and in a way that disarmed all opposition from his colleagues, that the negotiation should go forward.
An apartment in the fort was prepared as a council-room, and at the appointed hour the doors were thrown open. At the head of the table sat Clarke, a soldier-like and majestic man, whose complexion, eyes, and hair, all indicated a sanguine and mercurial temperament. The brow was high and capacious, the features were prominent and manly; and the expression, which was keen, reflective, and ordinarily cheerful and agreeable, was now grave, almost to sternness.
The Indians, being a military people, have a deep respect for martial virtue. To other estimable or shining qualities they turn a careless eye, or pay at best but a passing tribute, while they bow in profound veneration before a successful warrior. The name of Clarke was familiar to them : several brilliant expeditions into their country had spread the terror of his arms throughout their villages, and carried the fame of his exploits to every council-fire in the West. Their high appreciation of his character was exemplified in a striking as well as an amusing manner, on another occasion, when a council was held with several tribes. The celebrated Delaware chief, Buckingahelas, on entering the council-room, without noticing any other person, walked up to Clarke, and as he shook hands cordially with him, exclaimed, • It is a happy day when two such men as Colonel Clarke and Buckingahelas meet together!
Such was the remarkable man who now presided at the council table. On his right hand sat Colonel Richard Butler, a brave officer of the revolution, who soon after fell, with the rank of brigadier-general, in the disastrous campaign of Saint Clair. On the other side was Samuel H. Parsons, a lawyer from New England, who after