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Thomas Guthrie Marquis
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 83 pages of information about The War Chief of the Ottawas .
French missionaries were the first white men to settle in the populous Huron country near Lake Simcoe.  A missionary was the first European to catch a glimpse of Georgian Bay, and a missionary was probably the first of the French race to launch his canoe on the lordly Mississippi.  As a father the priest watched over his wilderness flock; while the French traders fraternized with the red men, and often mated with dusky beauties.  Many French traders, according to Sir William Johnson—­a good authority, of whom we shall learn more later-were ’gentlemen in manners, character, and dress,’ and they treated the natives kindly.  At the great centres of trade—­Montreal, Three Rivers, and Quebec—­the chiefs were royally received with roll of drum and salute of guns.  The governor himself —­the ‘Big Mountain,’ as they called him—­would extend to them a welcoming hand and take part in their feastings and councils.  At the inland trading-posts the Indians were given goods for their winter hunts on credit and loaded with presents by the officials.  To such an extent did the custom of giving presents prevail that it became a heavy tax on the treasury of France, insignificant, however, compared with the alternative of keeping in the hinterland an armed force.  The Indians, too, had fought side by side with the French in many notable engagements.  They had aided Montcalm, and had assisted in such triumphs as the defeat of Braddock.  They were not only friends of the French; they were sword companions.

The British colonists could not, of course, entertain friendly feelings towards the tribes which sided with their enemies and often devastated their homes and murdered their people.  But it must be admitted that, from the first, the British in America were far behind the French in christianlike conduct towards the native races.  The colonial traders generally despised the Indians and treated them as of commercial value only, as gatherers of pelts, and held their lives in little more esteem than the lives of the animals that yielded the pelts.  The missionary zeal of New England, compared with that of New France, was exceedingly mild.  Rum was a leading article of trade.  The Indians were often cheated out of their furs; in some instances they were slain and their packs stolen.  Sir William Johnson described the British traders as ’men of no zeal or capacity:  men who even sacrifice the credit of the nation to the basest purposes.’  There were exceptions, of course, in such men as Alexander Henry and Johnson himself, who, besides being a wise official and a successful military commander, was one of the leading traders.

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