Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Humpday History Highlight

Today is also the anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania, but everyone knows that story. This story is much more educational. Enjoy!

May 7, 1763 - Pontiac's Plot is Foiled.

On this day in 1763, Major Henry Gladwin, British commander of Fort Detroit, foils Ottawa Chief Pontiac’s attempt at a surprise attack. Romantic lore holds that Gladwin’s Seneca mistress informed him of the western Indians’ plans for an uprising.

When Pontiac arrived at the fort with his men, who were concealing weapons under their trading blankets, they discovered that Gladwin had assembled his men and prepared them for a defense of the fort. Knowing that, without the element of surprise, their efforts would not be successful, Pontiac withdrew and instead laid siege to the fort for the rest of the summer, while his allies successfully seized 10 of 13 British forts in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions by June 20. The western Indians’ efforts to unite all Native Americans in an attempt to free themselves of addictions to European trade goods and alcohol, guided by their spiritual leader, a Delaware named Neolin, seemed to be succeeding. However, the French failed to come to the Indians’ aid in driving the British back to the Atlantic as hoped, dooming the rebellion.

British General Jeffrey Amherst, who first angered western Indians in 1760 by curtailing the tradition of gift exchange long practiced by both the French and English governments, unleashed one of the earliest uses of biological weaponry on the Indians in response to their uprising. He ordered Colonel Henry Bouquet of Fort Pitt to “Extirpate this Execrable Race,” by distributing smallpox-infected blankets among them. The plan succeeded in breeding a deadly smallpox epidemic among the Indians in 1763-64. (H/T - History.com)

Holy crap! So, I guess its safe to assume that the Indians of the time immediately took General Amherst off their Christmas card lists?

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