THE REBELLION OF PONTIAC
 "DO you not know the difference between the King of France and the
King of Britain?" a Frenchman once asked an Indian. "Go, look at
the forts which our King has built, you will see that you can still
hunt under their very walls. They have been built for your good
in the places where you go. The British on the other hand are no
sooner in possession of a place than they drive the game away, the
trees fall before them, the earth is laid bare, so that you can
scarcely find a few branches with which to make a shelter for the
The Frenchman spoke truth. The British settlers were, for the most
part, grave and earnest men who had come to seek new homes. They
felled trees and built their houses, and ploughed the land, turning
wilderness into cornfields and meadow.
The Frenchmen came for the sake of religion or for adventure, they
set up crosses and claimed the land for God and the King. They
scattered churches and hamlets far in the wilderness, but left
the wilderness and the forest still the Redman's hunting ground.
The Frenchmen treated the Indians with an easy, careless sort of
friendliness, while most of the British looked down upon them as
So very soon after the British took possession of Canada the Indians
became very discontented. For now they got no more presents, they
were no longer treated as brothers, and they were hurt both in their
pockets and their pride.
 "The English mean to make slaves of us,"
they said, in haughty indignation, and soon a plot to murder all
the British was formed.
The French who still lived in Canada encouraged the Indians in
their discontent, telling them that the English meant thoroughly
to root them out. Then a great Medicine Man arose among them who
"The Great Spirit himself appeared unto me," he said. "Thus he
spake. 'I am the Lord of Life. It is I who made all men. I work for
their safety, therefore I give you warning. Suffer not the English
to dwell in your midst, lest their poisons and their sickness
destroy you utterly.' "
When they heard the Medicine Man speak thus, the Indians were greatly
stirred. "The Lord of Life himself," they said, "moves our hearts
to war." They became ever more and more eager to fight. They only
wanted a leader, and found one in Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas.
He was subtle and fierce, haughty and ambitious, and by far the
most clever and powerful chief who ever took up arms against the
Now he sent messengers to all the Indian villages both far and near.
With them these messengers carried a hatchet, stained with blood,
and a war belt of scarlet wampum. When they came to a village they
called the braves together. Then in their midst their spokesman
flung down the blood stained hatchet, and holding the belt in his
hand he made a passionate speech, reminding the Redmen of their
wrongs, and calling upon them to be avenged upon their foes. And
wherever the messengers went the blood stained hatchet was seized,
and the war dance danced.
At length all was arranged and upon a certain day in May the Indians
were to rise in a body, and slay the British to a man. Only the
French were to be spared.
Pontiac himself was to attack Fort Detroit, and so quietly
secretly were the preparations made that no one had the slightest
suspicion of what was going forward. But the day before the attack
a farmer's wife rowed across the river, and went to the Indian
village to buy some maple sugar. While she was there she was much
astonished to see some of the Indian braves filing off the barrels
of their guns. The sight made her uneasy. "I wonder what they are
up to?" she said.
When she got home she told her friends what she had seen.
"I believe they are up to some mischief," she repeated.
"I think so too," said a blacksmith, "they have been asking me to
lend them files and saws."
As the settlers talked the matter over they became at length so
uneasy that they sent to tell Major Gladwin, the commander of the
fort, of what they had seen. He, however, thought nothing of it.
But later in the day a young Indian girl came to see him, to bring
him a pair of moccasins which he had asked her to make. She seemed
very sad and downcast, and after she had given the Major the
moccasins she still loitered about.
"What's the matter?" asked a young officer.
The Indian girl did not answer, she only looked at him gravely with
sorrowful brown eyes.
Still she lingered about, it was nearly dark, time almost to close
the gates. At last the young officer watching her, became certain
that something was the matter, and he urged his commander to see
the girl again.
Major Gladwin at once called the girl to him. "What is the matter?"
he asked. "Why are you so sad?"
Still she would not speak. Then the Major talked to her kindly,
promising that whatever her secret was, it would be safe with him,
and that he would never betray her. So at length the Indian girl
 "The Indians mean to kill you all," she whispered; "the braves
have filed off the ends of their gun barrels so that the guns can
be hidden beneath their blankets. Tomorrow Pontiac will come with
many warriors, and will ask to hold a Council within the fort. He
will make a speech, and offer you a peace belt of wampum. At the
end of the speech he will turn the belt round—that will be the
signal. The chiefs will then spring up, draw the guns from their
hiding places, and kill you all. Indians outside will kill all your
soldiers. Not one of you will escape."
So saying the girl went sadly away.
Gladwin at once called his officers and told them what he had
heard. They were convinced now that evil was afoot, and all night
they kept watch lest the Indians should change their minds, and
make their attack during the night.
But the night passed peacefully. When morning came a great many
Indians were seen to be gathered about the fort, and at ten o'clock
Pontiac, followed by his chiefs, entered the gateway.
They stalked in proudly, garbed in all the glory of savage
splendours. They were cloaked in bright coloured blankets, and hung
about with beads and hawk-bells. Their heads were decorated with
eagle feathers, and their faces hideously painted.
Pontiac came first, and as he passed beneath the gateway, he started,
and drew a sharp, deep breath. For both sides of the narrow street
were lined with soldiers gun in hand. He had been betrayed! Yet
the haughty chiefs made no sign. In silence they stalked on, not
a muscle of their faces moving. Here and there as they passed on
they saw traders standing about in groups, every man fully armed.
Not a woman or child was to be seen.
At length the Indians reached the Council Hall. Here they found the
commander seated awaiting them, surrounded by his officers. They,
too, were armed, for every
 man of them wore a sword by his side
and a brace of pistols in his belt.
Ill at ease now, the Indians gazed at each other in doubt what to
Then Pontiac spoke, "why," he asked, "do I see so many of my father's
braves standing in the street with their guns?"
"Because I exercise my soldiers," replied Gladwin calmly, "for the
good of their health, and also to keep discipline."
This answer made the Indians still more uneasy, but after some
hesitation they all sat down on the floor. Then with due ceremony
Pontiac rose, and holding the belt of peace in his hand began
to speak. His words were fair. They had come, he said, to tell of
their love for the English, "to smoke the pipe of peace, and make
the bonds of friendship closer."
As he spoke his false and cunning words, the officers kept a watchful
eye upon him. Would he give the signal or not, they asked themselves.
He raised the belt. At that moment Gladwin made a quick, slight
signal. Immediately from the passage without came the sound of
grounding arms, and the rat-tat of a drum. Pontiac stood rigid, as
one turned to stone. Then after a moment's deathly silence he sat
In the silence Gladwin sat looking steadily and fearlessly at the
Indians. Then he replied shortly to Pontiac's fine speech, "The
friendship of the British should be theirs," he said, "so long as
they deserved it."
The Council was at an end. The gates of the fort which had been
closed were now thrown open again, and the savages, balked in their
treachery, stalked back to their wigwams.
But Pontiac was not yet beaten, and again he tried to master the
fort by treachery. And when he found the
 gates of the fort shut
against him, his rage was terrible. Then seeing they could not win
Fort Detroit by treachery, the Indians attacked it in force. But
in spite of all his horde of warriors, in spite of all his wiles,
Pontiac could not take the fort although he besieged it for a whole
Meanwhile the savages over-ran the whole country, and every other
fort, save Fort Pitt and Fort Niagara, fell into their hands. More
often than not, they won their way into the forts by treachery,
and having entered they slew, without mercy, men, women and children.
At Michilimackinac the Redskins invited the officers and soldiers
to watch a game of ball. The invitation was accepted, and nearly all
the soldiers stood about watching while the Indians with piercing
yells dashed madly hither and thither after the ball. Crowds of
Indians also looked on, among them many squaws wrapped in coloured
blankets. The game was played just outside the fort, the gates
stood open, and most of the soldiers had strolled out without their
weapons to watch.
Suddenly the ball flew through the air and landed close to the
gate of the fort. There was a mad rush after it. As they ran the
Indians snatched the hatchets and knives which till now the squaws
had hidden beneath their blankets. Screams of delight were changed
to war cries. The two officers who stood by the gate were seized
and carried away prisoner, while the rabble stormed into the fort
slaying and robbing at will. Every one of the British was either
killed or taken prisoner, but the French were left alone.
Thus all the land was filled with bloodshed and horror. There was
no safety anywhere. In every bush an Indian might lurk, and night
was made terrible with bloodcurdling war cries.
For nearly three years the war lasted. But by degrees Pontiac saw
that his cause was lost. The French did not help him as he had
expected they would. Some of his
fol-  lowers deserted, and other
tribes refused to join him, and at last he saw himself forced to
make peace. So there were flowery speeches, and the exchange of
wampum belts, and peace was made.
Then Pontiac's army melted away like snow in summer, and the great
Chief himself retired to the forest to live among his children and
his squaws. A few years later he was traitorously slain by one of
his own people.