Original Document
Original Document
Speeches from a French Council with the Ohio Indians, 1753.

During the summer of 1753, the Ohio Indians grew increasingly displeased with the French construction of forts along the route between Lake Erie and the Forks of the Ohio. A delegation of these Indians led by Tanaghrisson, a Seneca also known as the Half King, confronted the French at Fort Presque Isle in early September of that year. The French knew Tanaghrisson to be a strong ally of the British; they disputed his right to speak for the Ohio Indians and dealt with his requests in an abrupt manner.

"Tanaghrisson, to the French commander, Chevalier Pierre Paul Marin:

With this belt we detain you and ask you to have them [the French soldiers] cease setting up the establishments you want to make. All the tribes have always called upon us not to allow it. We have told our brothers the English to withdraw. They have done so, too. We shall be on the side of those who take pity on us and who listen to us. Although I am small, the Master of Life has not given me less courage to oppose these establishments. This is the first and last demand we shall make of you, and I shall strike at whoever does not listen to us.

With these four strings of wampum, we tell you that we ask you to listen to the request we make of you and to the opposition we have to the establishment on our river. We therefore ask you, my father, to take pity on our children and those to come, seeing that, if you settle here, it is the way to make us all perish. We ask you only to send there what we need [i.e., trade goods], but not to build any forts there.

Marin's response:

The establishments which I am setting up and which I shall continue along the Belle Riviere [Ohio River] are founded on the fact that it belongs incontestably to the King. . . . I despise all the stupid things you said. I know that they come only from you, and that all the warriors and chiefs of the Belle Riviere think better than you, and taken pity on their women and children. I am obliged to tell you that I shall continue on my way, and if there are any persons bold enough to set up barriers to hinder my march, I shall knock them over so vigorously that they may crush those who made them. . . . Therefore, consider all this carefully. Perhaps you will come to your senses and recognize your folly and the risk you have been running."

Credit: Donald H. Kent, The French Invasion of Western Pennsylvania (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1954), 49-50.
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