Native Americans in Colonial America



The North Carolinians turned their attention to the richer lands away from the sea; and hunters trapped the beaver and otter in the waters far in the interior among the hills. The Indians along the sea-board had melted before the warmth of civilization like snow in the sunbeams of spring-time. The powerful Hatteras tribe, that numbered about three thousand when Harriot healed King Wingina, were reduced to fifteen bowmen in the year 1700. Another tribe on the Chowan had entirely disappeared; and the remainder of the Indians in that region had been defrauded of their lands and driven back into the deep forests, when they and their brethren there perished by hundreds by the vices and diseases of the white man. The broad domain from the sea to the Yadkin and the Catawba then lay almost uninhabited, and invited to its bosom the skill of the husbandman with promises of wealth and comfort.

At about that time the freedom of the North Carolinians--"every one of whom," it was said, "did what was right in his own eyes, paying tribute to neither God nor Caesar"--was disturbed by an attempt, in 1704, to establish there the ecclesiastical dominion of the Church of England. Deputy--Governor Daniells had been sent for that purpose. He caused the first church in the province, already mentioned, to be built at the public expense. The people opposed the scheme. The Friends led in the opposition, and the turbulence that ensued soon bore the aspect of a political quarrel. Anarchy prevailed for awhile. On one side in the dispute were Churchmen and Loyalists; on the other side were Dissenters and Republicans, among whom the Friends, who were rapidly increasing in numbers, were the most active, and were ranked by the adherents of the proprietors as a "rabble of profligate persons." There were two governors and two legislatures for a time; but their dissensions were soon quieted. The people passively acquiesced in the ecclesiastical scheme of the deputy-governor, but they did not become Churchmen. Several years afterward, there was only one clergyman in the provinces, for no congregations could be gathered.

Meanwhile some excellent immigrants had enriched the colony. In 1607 some Huguenots came from their temporary settlement in Virginia, and seated themselves on the beautiful banks of the Trent, a tributary of the Neuse. They were followed two years afterward by emigrants from Switzerland, who founded New Berne at the head of the Neuse. At about the same time a hundred fugitive German families from the devastated Palatinates on the Rhine came to seek shelter and repose. They were led by Count Graffenreid, and founded settlements upon the headwaters of the Neuse and the banks of the Roanoke.

Soon after these inland settlements were fairly planted, and were spreading, a fearful calamity fell upon the Germans. The remnants of the exasperated tribes, who had been driven into the forests, had nursed their revenge until it became too strong for repression. Incited and led by the Tuscaroras, a fierce Algonquin tribe, they joined in an effort to re-possess their lost country. In this patriotic endeavor the Corees, a tribe near the seaboard further south, became their allies. They all fell with terrible force upon the scattered German settlers along the Roanoke and the borders of Pamlico Sound; and in a single October night in 1711, they slew one hundred and thirty men, women and children, and lighted up the country for scores of miles with the flames of burning dwellings. With the hatchet and torch they swept like fiends along the borders of Albemarle Sound, killing, plundering and burning, during the space of three days, until they were overcome with fatigue and drunkenness. On the eve of this murderous raid, John Lawson, surveyor-general of the province, and Count Graffenreid, were taken captive by the Indians. They tortured Lawson to death by burning him at a sapling, but the Count saved his life and gained his liberty by adroitly persuading them that he was the sachem of a tribe of men who had lately come into the country, and were in no way connected with the English.

The wildest excitement spread over North Carolina. The people fled in affright toward the sea, and many left the province. Those who remained called upon their brethren of South Carolina for help. Colonel Barnwell hastened northward with some Carolinians and a body of friendly Indians composed of Creeks, Cherokees, Catawbas, and Yammasees. The Indian tide was rolled back. The Tuscaroras were driven to their fortified town in the present Craven county, and there a solemn treaty of peace was made between the white men and the Indians. All might have been well but for the treachery of the South Carolinians, who, on their way homeward, violated the treaty by committing outrages upon the Indians. The latter were enraged, and speedily flew to arms. Terror everywhere prevailed. It seemed as if the purpose of the Indians to annihilate the intruders would be accomplished. Back to the rescue of their brethren from destruction went the Carolinians. Colonel Moore, with a small number of white men and a large body of Indians, soon met and defeated the hostile Indians. The Tuscaroras were driven to their fort in the present Greene county, where eight hundred of them were made prisoners. The remainder of the tribe fled to the north, and joined their kindred near the southern shores of Lake Ontario, when they became the sixth nation of the Iroquois Confederacy in the province of New York. A treaty of peace was made with the Corees afterward, and North Carolina never again suffered from the hostility of Indians. The war had cost the province a large sum of money, for the payment of which bills of credit were issued to the amount of forty thousand dollars. This was the first issue of paper money in North Carolina.





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