Minute Book 3: 1726-June: An Impressive French Fort at Niagara Threatens British Trade

The rumors were true. The commissioners learned from Major Abraham Schuyler and others that the French had sent 120 men to Jagara (Niagara) to build a new fort there on the south side of the river. French ships filled with lime for its construction were on their way from Cadarachqui, the site of present day Kingston Ontario. A strong new fort at Niagara would cut off native fur traders bringing their goods to Oswego or Albany from the Great Lakes, and would even prevent the Senecas from returning with furs from their hunting territories. The French planned to store goods at Niagara in order to replace the English as suppliers to all the nations in the area.

The commissioners heard that the French had 400 militia men ready to go to Niagara to defend the fort if need be. They urged the governor to look for a legal remedy based on the treaty in force between France and England. Major Schuyler sent several letters that were not copied into the record, although there is a space left for them.  The Onondaga Indians who brought the most recent one appeared to be suspicious of the English and the commissioners urged the governor once again to post some “men of Experience and Conduct” in Iroquoia to restore good relations between the British and the Six Nations.

 An Old Frontier of France, by Frank Severance (NY: Dodd, Mead, 1917, p. 225 et seq.) explains in detail how Fort Niagara was planned and constructed. Below is the plan drawn up for the new fort by Governor Vaudreuil’s military engineer, Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Lery.

Severance-FrenchFrontier_FtNiagPlan1

Plans for the fort that France wanted to build at Niagara. From Frank Severance, An Old Frontier of France, NY: Dodd Mead, 1917, v.1, p. 240.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, June 1726 starts here.

Below is the full transcription.

[0258] 127a

[Not in Wraxall.]

Att a meeting of ye Com.rs of

the Indian affairs in albany

the 5th of June 1726.

Present

Ph Livingston

Henry Holland

Peter van Brugh          }

Evert Bancker

Henry [Holland – crossed out] Renslaer

The Com.es Recd this day two letters

from maj.r Abraham Schuyler [dated at onodage – smudged or crossed out]

the

[REST OF PAGE IS BLANK]

[0259] 128

[Wraxall p. 163 et seq.]

Att a meeting of ye Com.es of ye

Indian affairs in albany ye 8th of

June 1726

Present

Ph Livingston

Henry Holland

Peter van Brugh          }

Evert Banker

Henry Renslaer

May it Please your Excellency

It is with no Litle Concern that the Intelligence

we had from Montreal and we Informd your Excel.y

with that the french were Sending up a Number

of men to Jagara proves ture [true?] there are now 120 men

as major Abr. Schuyler advices us, and now we have

an acco.t that the 2 vessels build by the french at

Cadarachquis passd by the mouth of the onnondage

River bound to Jagara with Lime &c. to make the

above building this may and we humbly Conceive

will prove of fatall Consequence to this Province

in Particular, and very distructive to the fur Trade

by what we are assurd that this building is to be

at the South Side of Jagara River. where is a good

harbour for Vessells and Conveniently Scituated

to Intercept all the fur trade of the upper nations

and even of our Sinnekes who must pass by that

Place as they come from their hunting, who cant

avoid Passing by that place or So Near it that the

french there will trade with them. they are to

have a larger Store of goods there for Supplying

the Indians

We hope your Ex.ly will be pleasd

to take Such proper measures as your Excellency

in your great wisdom Shall Seem most proper

to frustrate the french Pernicious Designs, in put=

=ting up this building on Land belonging to the,

Indians we are assurd that 400 men of ye. milita at mon

=treal are Detachd to be Ready on the first notice

to go up to Jagara, if the Indians Should Restrain

them from makeing that building, by this and

their other Vigilant actions it appears plain

to us

[0260] 128a

To us that they will use their uttmost Endeavours to

Prevent us from having any trade at all from any Indians

Setled above Jagara or about the Lake of Cadarachqui how

this agrees with the treatie of Commerce your Ex.cy may be

best Judge. Received this Day a letter from Maj. Abra.m

Schuyler of the first Instant brought by three onnondage —

Indians who Say to be Sent by the Sachims to know the

Contents of the S.d Letter w.h was accordingly explaind

unto them, it Seems that the Indians Intertain very Sus=

=picious & Jealous thoughts of us. and w.h never will be

otherwise untill men of Experience & Conduct be posted &

Live [and-crossed out] among them. here are also two other Letters

from M.r Schuyler Rec.d ye. 5th Instant we have no more to

add at present but that we are with great Respect

May it Please your Exce.ly

[0309] 153

Att a meeting of the Commiss.

of the Indian affairs in Albany

23th June 1726

[REMAINDER OF PAGE IS BLANK]

 

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About hopefulwanderer

Writer, researcher, archivist, etc. @ahhunter
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