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The Forty Years’ War For The West
by [?]

The French king gave up the West to the English king in 1763, but, as we have seen, the Indians had no part in the bargain. They only knew that they were handed over by those who had been their friends to those who had been their enemies, and they did not consent. They had made war upon the English colonists before, and now, in spite of the failure of Pontiac, and in spite of Bouquet’s march into the Ohio country, they kept up their warfare for forty years, with a truce when it was convenient, and a treaty of peace when it was convenient, but with a steadfast purpose to drive the English settlers out, and to hold the wilderness for themselves. It was not until long after their power was broken by the American arms in 1794 that their struggle ended in the region which ten years later became the state of Ohio.

There was misunderstanding on both sides. The Indians naturally supposed that their own country belonged to them, and the colonists supposed that their eastern and western borders were the two oceans. These were commonly the boundaries which the English king had given them; and when he had not been quite clear about it in his grants of territory which he had never even imagined, they did not allow him to deal less splendidly with them than such a prince ought. He had, as we know, given the Ohio Company of Virginia a large tract of the best land beyond the Ohio even while the French still claimed the West, and he had encouraged the Virginians to believe they had a right to settle it and to fortify it. But after the capture of Quebec, when the West, as well as Canada, fell into the power of Great Britain, the English king, or rather his ministers, began to change their minds about letting the colonists take up lands in the Back Country, as they called it. The jealousy between the colonies grew less, but the jealousy between them and Great Britain grew greater; there were outbreaks here and there against her rule, and there was discontent nearly everywhere. The colonists were disappointed and embittered that the West should be treated as a part of Canada, by the mother country, when it ought to have been shared among the English provinces. The British government tried to hinder the settlement of the whites on the Indians’ lands; and though it could not keep them off altogether, it did enough to make the savages feel that it was their friend against its own subjects. In 1774, Parliament passed a law which declared the whole West, between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and below the Great Lakes, a part of the Province of Quebec. This was felt by our colonies to be so great an injury that it was charged against Great Britain in the Declaration of Independence, as one of the causes for separation. It was in fact an act hostile to a people of the British race, language, and religion, and it was meant not so much to help the savages, as to hurt the colonists, though it did really help the savages. When the Revolutionary War broke out a year or two later, the British government did not scruple to make use of the cruel hatred of the Indians against its rebellious subjects.

It set on the war parties that harried the American border, and when the blood-stained braves came back with their plunder, their captives, and the scalps of the men, women, and children they had murdered, they were welcomed at the British forts as friends and allies. In certain cases, to be sure, British officers did what they could to soften the hard fate of the prisoners, but the British government was guilty, nevertheless, of the barbarous deeds done by the Indians. Its agents furnished them with arms and ammunition, and its ministers upheld them in the same atrocities against the American rebels as the French in their time had urged and tempted them to commit against the settlers when they were English subjects.