The aborigines East of the Mississippi.
on the surrender of Acadia
, the lakes,
the rivulets, the granite ledges, of Cape Breton,—of which the irregular outline is guarded by reefs of rocks, and notched and almost rent asunder by the constant action of the sea,—were immediately occu-
pied as a province of France
; and, in 1714, fugitives from Newfoundland
built their huts along its coasts wherever safe inlets invited fishermen to spread their flakes, and the soil, to plant fields and gardens.
In a few years, the fortifications of Louisburg
began to rise—the key to the St. Lawrence
, the bulwark of the French
fisheries, and of French commerce in North America
From Cape Breton, the dominion of Louis XIV.
extended up the St. Lawrence
to Lake Superior
, and from that lake, through the whole course of the Mississippi
, to the Gulf of Mexico
and the Bay of Mobile
Just beyond that bay began the posts of the Spaniards, which continued round the shores of Florida
to the fortress of St. Augustine
The English colonies skirted the Atlantic
, extending from Florida
to the eastern verge of Nova Scotia
Thus, if on the east the strait of Canso
, if on the south a narrow range of forests intervened between England
, every where else the colonies of the rival nations were separated from each
other by tribes of the natives.
The Europeans had
established a wide circle of plantations, or, at least, of posts; they had encompassed the aborigines that dwelt east of the Mississippi
; and, however eager might now be the passion of the intruders for carving their emblems on trees, and designating their lines of anticipated empire on maps, their respective settlements were kept asunder by an unexplored wilderness, of which savages were the occupants.
The great strife of France
for American territory could not, therefore, but involve the ancient possessors of the continent in a series of conflicts, which have, at last, banished the Indian
tribes from the earlier limits of our republic.
The picture of the unequal contest inspires a compassion that is honorable to humanity.
The weak demand sympathy.
If a melancholy interest attaches to the fall of a hero, who is overpowered by superior force, shall we not drop a tear at the fate of nations, whose defeat foreboded the exile, if it did not indeed shadow forth the decline and ultimate extinction, of a race?
The earliest books on America
contained tales as wild as fancy could invent or credulity repeat.
The land was peopled with pygmies and with giants; the tropical forests were said to conceal tribes of negroes and tenants of the hyperborean regions were white, like the polar bear or the ermine.
had heard of a nation that did not eat; and the pedant Lafitau
believed, if not in a race of headless men, at
least, that there was a nation of men with the head not rising above the shoulders.
Yet the first aspect of the original inhabitants of the United States
Between the Indians of Florida
, the difference was scarcely per
Their manners and institutions, as well as
their organization, had a common physiognomy; and, before their languages began to be known, there was no safe method of grouping the nations into families.
But when the vast variety of dialects came to be com-
pared, there were found east of the Mississippi
not more than eight radically distinct languages, of which five still constitute the speech of powerful communities, and three are known only as memorials of tribes that have almost disappeared from the earth.
I. The primitive language which was the most widely diffused, and the most fertile in dialects, received from the French
the name of Algonquin.
It was the mother tongue of those who greeted the colonists of Raleigh
, of those who welcomed the Pilgrims to Plymouth
It was heard from the Bay of Gaspe
to the valley of the Des Moines
; from Cape Fear
, and, it may be, from the Savannah
, to the land of the Esquimaux; from the Cumberland River
to the southern bank of the Missinipi.
It was spoken, though not exclusively, in a territory that extended through sixty degrees of longitude, and more than twenty degrees of latitude.
, who occupied the east of the continent, south of the little tribe that dwelt round the Bay of Gaspe
, holding possession of Nova Scotia
adjacent isles, and probably never much exceeding three thousand in number, were known to our fathers only as the active allies of the French
They often invaded, but never inhabited, New England
, or Canoemen, dwelt not only on the St. John's River
, the Ouygondy of the natives,
but on the St. Croix
, which Champlain
always called from their name, and extended as far west, at least, as Mount Desert
Next to these came the Abenakis, of whom one
tribe has left its name to the Penobscot
, and another to the Androscoggin
; while a third, under the auspices
of Jesuits, had its chapel and its fixed abode in the fertile fields of Norridgewock
The clans that disappeared from their ancient hunting-grounds did not always become extinct; they often migrated to the north and west.
Of the Sokokis, who
appear to have dwelt near Saco
, and to have had an alliance with the Mohawks, many, at an early day, abandoned the region where they first became known
voyagers, and placed themselves under the shelter of the French
The example of emigration was often followed; the savage shunned the vicinity of the civilized: among the tribes of Texas
, there are warriors who are said to trace their lin-
eage to Algonquins on the Atlantic
; and descendants from the New England
Indians now roam over western prairies.
The forests beyond the Saco
, with New Hampshire
, and even as far as Salem
, constituted the sachemship of Pennacook, or Pawtucket
, and often afforded a refuge to the remnants of feebler nations around them.
The tribe of the Massachusetts
, even before the colonization of the country, had almost disappeared from the shores of the bay that bears its name; and the villages of the interior resembled insulated and nearly independent bands, that had lost themselves in the wilderness.
Of the Pokanokets, who dwelt round Mount Hope
, and were sovereigns over Nantucket
, Martha's Vineyard, and a part of Cape Cod
; of the Narragansetts, who dwelt between the bay that bears their name and the present limits of Connecticut
, holding dominion
over Rhode Island
and its vicinity, as well as a part
of Long Island
,—the most civilized of the northern nations; of the Pequods, the branch of the Mohegans
that occupied the eastern part of Connecticut
, and ruled a part of Long Island
,—earliest victims to the Europeans,—I have already related the overthrow.
The country between the banks of the Connecticut
and the Hudson
was possessed by independent villages of the Mohegans, kindred with the Manhattans, whose few ‘smokes’ once rose amidst the forests on New York Island
The Lenni Lenape
, in their two divisions of the Minsi and the Delawares, occupied New Jersey
, the valley of the Delaware
far up towards the sources of that river, and the entire basin of the Schuylkill
Like the benevolent William Penn
, the Delawares were pledged to a system of peace; but, while Penn
forbore retaliation freely, the passiveness of the Delawares was to them the degrading confession of their