The Winning of the West, Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 354 pages of information about The Winning of the West, Volume 4.

Doubtless the statesmen who shaped the policy of Great Britain never deliberately intended to break faith, and never fully realized the awful nature of the Indian warfare for which they were in part responsible; they thought very little of the matter at all in the years which saw the beginning of their stupendous struggle with France.  But the acts of their obscure agents on the far interior frontier were rendered necessary and inevitable by their policy.  To encourage the Indians to hold their own against the Americans, and to keep back the settlers, meant to encourage a war of savagery against the border vanguard of white civilization; and such a war was sure to teem with fearful deeds.  Moreover, where the interests of the British Crown were so manifold it was idle to expect that the Crown’s advisers would treat as of much weight the welfare of the scarcely-known tribes whom their agents had urged to enter a contest which was hopeless except for British assistance.  The British statesmen were engaged in gigantic schemes of warfare and diplomacy; and to them the Indians and the frontiersmen alike were pawns on a great chessboard, to be sacrificed whenever necessary.  When the British authorities deemed it likely that there would be war with America, the tribes were incited to take up the hatchet; when there seemed a chance of peace with America the deeds of the tribes were disowned; and peace was finally assured by a cynical abandonment of their red allies.  In short, the British, while professing peace with the Americans, treacherously incited the Indians to war against them; and, when it suited their own interests, they treacherously abandoned their Indian allies to the impending ruin. [Footnote:  The ordinary American histories, often so absurdly unjust to England, are right in their treatment of the British actions on the frontier in 1793-94.  The ordinary British historians simply ignore the whole affair.  As a type of their class, Mr. Percy Gregg may be instanced.  His “History of the United States” is a silly book; he is often intentionally untruthful, but his chief fault is his complete ignorance of the facts about which he is writing.  It is, of course, needless to criticise such writers as Mr. Gregg and his fellows.  But it is worth while calling attention to Mr. Goldwin Smith’s “The United States,” for Mr. Goldwin Smith is a student, and must be taken seriously.  He says:  “That the British government or anybody by its authority was intriguing with the Indians against the Americans is an assertion of which there seems to be no proof.”  If he will examine the Canadian Archives, from which I have quoted, and the authorities which I cite, he will find the proof ready to hand.  Prof.  A. C. McLaughlin has made a capital study of this question in his pamphlet on “The Western Posts and the British Debts.”  What he says cannot well be controverted.]



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