But little is known of the course of study pursued by Joseph at Moor’s School. When he entered it his knowledge must have been very slender, and as a young man he began to learn things ordinarily taught to a mere child. It is likely that he now became much more fluent than formerly in his use of the English tongue. From the beginning his progress was very rapid, and Dr Wheelock does not stint the praise that he bestows upon him: ’Joseph is indeed an excellent youth,’ was his comment; ’he has much endeared himself to me, as well as to his master, and everybody also by his good behaviour.’
The master here spoken of was Charles Jeffrey Smith, a young man of ample means who wished to be of service to the Indians. He had come to the school after Joseph’s arrival and helped the principal in giving instruction. He very soon remarked the superior intelligence which Joseph showed among the twenty-five pupils in his charge. Intending to make a missionary tour among the Indian tribes, he proposed to take his young pupil with him as an interpreter. Writing to Sir William Johnson about the matter, he referred to Joseph in most glowing terms: ’As he is a promising youth, of a sprightly genius, singular modesty, and a serious turn, I know of none so well calculated to answer my end as he is.’
It was with sad misgivings that Joseph thought of turning his back upon the school, where he had been for scarcely two years; but Smith promised to continue as his teacher when they were together in the Indian country, and to pay him something for his work as an interpreter. This appealed to the young redskin. It appeared that his schooldays were ended in any event, for his people were jealous of his prolonged stay in the lodges of the stranger and he had received a message calling him back to Canajoharie Castle.
In the month of June 1763, master and pupil set out together, but, as fate would have it, Smith’s quest among the tribes was to be quickly ended. Hardly had he begun his pilgrimage when he found the Indians in wild commotion. Again the hatchet had been unburied, and for the sake of security he had to bring his mission to an abrupt end.
Pontiac, great chief of the Ottawas, had raised the standard of revolt against English rule. This was an aftermath of the struggle just concluded with France, and began when the Western Indians saw that another race of pale-faces had come upon their lands. With skill and adroitness Pontiac had gathered many tribes into a strong offensive league. He declared that if they followed in his train he would drive the feet of the intruder from the red man’s territory. There was a savage rising in May 1763. In a twinkling eight English posts in the interior fell before the savages. Fort Ligonier and Fort Pitt, [Footnote: Formerly Fort Duquesne.] at the head-waters of the Ohio, and Fort Detroit in the west, were alone left standing of all the places attacked, and Detroit was besieged by Pontiac with thirty-six chiefs at his back. The call to arms in defence was urgent. A portion of the Six Nations joined their old allies, the English, and among the warriors who went out was Joseph Brant. ‘Joseph tarried,’ we are told, ’and went out with a company against the Indians, and was useful in the war, in which he behaved so much like the Christian and the soldier, that he gained great esteem.’