When the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed, the Marquis de la Galissoniere ruled over Canada. Like all the later Canadian governors, he was a naval officer; and, a few years after, he made himself famous by a victory, near Minorca, over the English admiral Byng,—an achievement now remembered chiefly by the fate of the defeated commander, judicially murdered as the scapegoat of an imbecile ministry. Galissoniere was a humpback; but his deformed person was animated by a bold spirit and a strong and penetrating intellect. He was the chief representative of the American policy of France. He felt that, cost what it might, she must hold fast to Canada, and link her to Louisiana by chains of forts strong enough to hold back the British colonies, and cramp their growth by confinement within narrow limits; while French settlers, sent from the mother-country, should spread and multiply in the broad valleys of the interior. It is true, he said, that Canada and her dependencies have always been a burden; but they are necessary as a barrier against English ambition; and to abandon them is to abandon ourselves; for if we suffer our enemies to become masters in America, their trade and naval power will grow to vast proportions, and they will draw from their colonies a wealth that will make them preponderant in Europe.
[Footnote 2: La Galissoniere, Memoire sur les Colonies de la France dans l’Amerique septentrionale.]
The treaty had done nothing to settle the vexed question of boundaries between France and her rival. It had but staved off the inevitable conflict. Meanwhile, the English traders were crossing the mountains from Pennsylvania and Virginia, poaching on the domain which France claimed as hers, ruining the French fur-trade, seducing the Indian allies of Canada, and stirring them up against her. Worse still, English land speculators were beginning to follow. Something must be done, and that promptly, to drive back the intruders, and vindicate French rights in the valley of the Ohio. To this end the Governor sent Celoron de Bienville thither in the summer of 1749.
He was a chevalier de St. Louis and a captain in the colony troops. Under him went fourteen officers and cadets, twenty soldiers, a hundred and eighty Canadians, and a band of Indians, all in twenty-three birch-bark canoes. They left La Chine on the fifteenth of June, and pushed up the rapids of the St. Lawrence, losing a man and damaging several canoes on the way. Ten days brought them to the mouth of the Oswegatchie, where Ogdensburg now stands. Here they found a Sulpitian priest, Abbe Piquet, busy at building a fort, and lodging for the present under a shed of bark like an Indian. This enterprising father, ostensibly a missionary, was in reality a zealous political agent, bent on winning over the red allies of the English, retrieving French prestige, and restoring French trade. Thus far he had attracted but two Iroquois to his new establishment; and these he lent to Celoron.