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Historic Diaries: James Doty, 1820

June 9, 1820: Schoolcraft, on the History of Mackinac

Editor's Note:

The Society has put Marquette's own 1673 diary online here
and many other 17th-century sources (including writings by the early French authors whom Schoolcraft lists) here.

The clever trick that Indian warriors played on the British in 1763, during the war which historians call Pontiac's Rebellion, was to stage a game of lacrosse outside the fort entrance and invite the whole town to watch. At a pre-arranged time they tossed the ball over the wall, and when the gate was opened to retrieve it, they rushed the fort with knives drawn and killed the British soldiers and their sympathizers. Green Bay founder Charles de Langlade was not killed, and persuaded the warriors to spare the lives of the British officers; fur trader Alexander Henry escaped only by hiding in one of the island's caves. This famous event is described here by Langlade's grandson; Henry describes it in chapter nine of his Travels and Adventures…

Location: Mackinac Island, Mich.

View original page in Schoolcraft's 1821 Narrative

The island of Michilimackinac, and the adjacent coasts, have been the theatre of some of the most interesting events in the history of the settlement of the northwestern regions of our continent.

The ancient town, which was situated on the extreme point of the Peninsula of Michigan, about three leagues distant from the island [was] due to the exertions of Father Marquette, a French missionary, who came here in 1671, with a party of Hurons, whom he prevailed on to locate themselves at that spot, where a fort was constructed, and it afterwards became an important post. This was eight years before La Salle's expedition through the lakes, and was the first point of European settlement made northwest of fort Frontenac, or Casdaracqui, on Lake Ontario. M. Tonti, Hennepin, Charlevoix and other ancient French writers, when they speak of Michilimackinac, allude to the old peninsular fort.

It continued to be the seat of the fur trade, and the undisturbed rendezvous of the Indian tribes, during the whole period that the crown of France exercised jurisdiction over the Canadas. After the fall of Quebec in 1759, it passed by treaty into the possession of the British government, but much against the wishes of the Indian tribes...

[In1763 the Indians tricked the English garrison into leaving the fort undefended.] This event finally sealed the fate of the fort and the town, after having been the seat of the fur trade for ninety-two years. The Indians, after butchering the garrison, burnt down the fort, and the English afterwards took possession of, and fortified the island of Michilimackinac, which had previously given name to the fort on the Peninsula.

No event of importance appears to have disturbed the tranquility, or retarded the growth of the modern town, for a long period, during which its trade and size, were both considerably increased. During the American Revolution we hear nothing of it, except as the rendezvous of hostile tribes. By the treaty of Paris, of 1783, acknowledging the independence, and fixing the boundaries of the United States, it fell under the jurisdiction of the American government, and was surrendered, according to McKenzie, in 1794. During the late war, (1812--14) the fort was surprised by a body of British troops, and maintained until surrendered by the treaty of Ghent of 1814.

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