For twelve years England, by means of military officers, ruled the great hinterland east of the Mississippi—a region vast and rich, which now teems with a population immensely greater than that of the whole broad Dominion of Canada—a region which is to-day dotted with such magnificent cities as Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis. Unhappily, England made no effort to colonize this wilderness empire. Indeed, as Edmund Burke has said, she made ’an attempt to keep as a lair of wild beasts that earth which God, by an express charter, had given to the children of men.’ She forbade settlement in the hinterland. She did this ostensibly for the Indians, but in reality for the merchants in the mother country. In a report of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations in 1772 are words which show that it was the intention of the government to confine ’the western extent of settlements to such a distance from the seaboard as that those settlements should lie within easy reach of the trade and commerce of this kingdom,... and also of the exercise of that authority and jurisdiction... necessary for the preservation of the colonies in a due subordination to, and dependence upon, the mother country... It does appear to us that the extension of the fur trade depends entirely upon the Indians being undisturbed in the possession of their hunting-grounds... Let the savages enjoy their deserts in quiet. Were they driven from their forests the peltry trade would decrease, and it is not impossible that worse savages would take refuge in them.’
Much has been written about the stamp tax and the tea tax as causes of the American revolution, but this determination to confine the colonies to the Atlantic seaboard ‘rendered the revolution inevitable.’ [Footnote: Roosevelt’s The Winning of the West, part i, p. 57.] In 1778, three years after the sword was drawn, when an American force under George Rogers Clark invaded the Indian country, England’s weakly garrisoned posts, then by the Quebec Act under the government of Canada, were easily captured; and, when accounts came to be settled after the war, the entire hinterland south of the Great Lakes, from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi, passed to the United States.
The main source of information regarding the siege of Detroit is the ‘Pontiac Manuscript.’ This work has been translated several times, the best and most recent translation being that by R. Clyde Ford for the Journal of Pontiac’s Conspiracy, 1763, edited by C. M. Burton. Unfortunately, the manuscript abruptly ends in the middle of the description of the fight at Bloody Run.