"the french are att the bottom of itt"George Croghan Autograph Letter Signed "Geo. Croghan." Three and one-half pages, Fort Bedford [Pennsylvania], June 15, 1763, addressed to two of his business partners, William Peter and Daniel Clark, shortly after the beginning of Pontiac's Rebellion. Croghan wrote this letter only three days after arriving at Fort Bedford on his way to Fort Pitt (General Jeffrey Amherst had ordered Croghan to Fort Pitt to investigate the recent Indian uprisings in the area). In this letter, Croghan reports that the two reasons for Indian anger were the British presence and the increasing power of the British in the Great Lakes Region. Croghan also defends himself, writing that he did not expect such a "Suden Eruption" from the Indians, though he had been saying the Indians were "unesey" over the presence of the British. The blame, he writes, should be placed on General Amherst for not paying attention to "Indian affairs as he should have Don to preserve the peace between them & his Majestys Subjects." It is likely, Croghan determines, that the "the french are att the bottom of itt." In part as written:
"I find you are of opinion that I was acquainted with this Suden Eruption with the Indians which I think is a Sevear Consern. as to the quantity of Lands wh. I sold you I am Cartian there will be more and for the quality I will Refer you to Mr. Maclay who has seen a great part of them. Indeed as things has turn out I Dont much Wonder att yr. Suspicions of my knoledge of this Disturbance as I sold them so Chepe Butt I can ashure you gentelmen that I Did nott Expect any such Erupison [Eruption?] att present tho I Never Made a secret to any Body of Speakeing my Mind with Respect to the Indians being unesey att our having so many posts in this Contry & there Jelocey of our growing power over them & the . . . [illegible] they had of our setleing there Contrey all which I have Repetedly signifyd to Coll Boquet [Henry Bouquet] to whome I Referr you for the Truth of & General [Jeffery] Amherst & Sir William Johnson & allways thought that the General Did nott pay that attension to Indian affairs as he should have Don to preserve the peace between them & his Majestys Subjects those ware my Sentements Sense[?] Last year wh Governor [James] Hamilton & Mr. Richerd Peters are aquainted with I must Confess I Did nott Expect the Stroke . . . [illegible] Nor Did I Ever Expect that the Indians would attempt to Carrey there Resentment farther then Indeever to Cutt of our posts & so free there Contry of an army whoss power they Dreaded Nor Can I think they Intend any More Now or this Setlement wold have felt the Effects of their Revenge before Now. Nor by all the Acounts we have Does itt appear to Me to be General the Dallaways[Delawares?] are the people who has Commited all the hostilitys against us wh. we can be Cartian of these . . . [illegible] that they were Nott the people wh. had taken up the hatchet Butt Say itt was the Ottaways & Cheepways [Ojibwas?] its posable those Nations have butt if they have you May Depend on itt the french are att the bottom of itt-and its posable other Indians May fall In with them if they are Successfull But we have Nothing for itt butt what the Dallaways Tell us yet."
Croghan then informs his two business partners of what they can expect from their land speculations in the area, which does not include financial loss: "however Lett itt [the Indian uprising] Turn out as itt will you Gentelmen shall be no Suferers." Defending his own character, Croghan next denies accusations that he profited from foreknowledge of an Indian war, citing his recent losses as proof: "I must take the Liberty in Defence of my own Carrictor to ask you whether its probable if I knew of this Suden Eruptio that I wold Leave all My Improvements and stock which I had Near fort pitt to the Mercy of those Indians wh. if Lost & Destoyd is as good as £2000 Lost to Me & the Improvements & stock I had where poor Coll. [William] Clapham was killd Cost me att Least £1800." (William Clapham had also been a business partner of Croghan.) Croghan ends his letter by insisting that a "General Conference" would have kept the Indians from fighting.
The "Suden Eruption" mentioned in the first sentence of this letter is a reference to the beginning of Pontiac's Rebellion, which had begun earlier in May 1763, about three months after the French and Indian War ended. As a result of their defeat, the French surrendered their North American possessions to the British, who quickly began to take possession of French forts and territory in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes Region. The transition, which saw an influx of large numbers of English settlers, angered the Indians living there, including the Ottawa leader Pontiac, who, along with 300 followers in May 1763, began to raid the region, capturing forts between Fort Pitt and Fort Detroit. Croghan, obviously frustrated in this letter, recalls that he had advised General Jeffery Amherst, the British representative who oversaw the transition of the region, that an Indian uprising was likely. Amherst, though, disregarded Croghan's warning. Once the rebellion began, Amherst ordered Croghan to Fort Pitt to investigate the causes of the uprising, but after arriving at Fort Bedford, Croghan deemed the trip from there to Fort Pitt (105 miles) too dangerous and decided to return east. The British government, fearing a protracted war with the Indians, issued the infamous Royal Proclamation of 1763 later in October, which forbade English settlers from moving west of the Appalachian Mountains. This created resentment among the English colonists which contributed to the divisions between them and Great Britain. Pontiac's Rebellion ended in 1764.
George Croghan (1718-1782), a native of Ireland, became acquainted with the Great Lake Region Indians and their languages. In 1756, he began service as the deputy Indian agent under William Johnson, an official of the British Empire appointed as Indian agent. The signature and all text are written in very bold ink, resulting in some bleedthrough. The paper is toned with some separations at folds; some have been repaired with tape. A few tape repairs exist where there were once small holes, affecting the text; in these instances, the letters have been traced onto the repairs.
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