"Storm Clouds Gathering"

"Washington meets Half King at Logstown"

By mid 1753, it was realized by the British that the French, having built two new forts between the head waters of the Allegheny River and Lake Erie, were planning to encroach on territory claimed by them. Before raising an army to repel the French by force of arms, Robert Dinwiddie, Governor of the colony of Virginia, decided to send a letter of remonstrance to the French commander. Twenty-one year old George Washington was selected for this mission. Although, not an experienced military leader, the young and hardy Washington was from an honorable family, a major in the Virginia militia and an experi­enced surveyor. He was directed to immediately proceed to Logstown (then a major trade center about seventeen miles below present day Pittsburgh), get the support of the Indian leaders in the area and to obtain a competent escort to the French headquarters. His hidden agenda was to determine the layout of the enemy defenses, their numbers and their strengths and weaknesses. Washington left Williamsburg, Virginia on October 31,1753, proceeded to Logstown, met with the French at Fort LeBoeuf and returned to Williamsburg where he reported to Governor Dinwiddie. The entire 300-mile trip was completed in twenty-nine days in spite of unbelievably foul weather conditions and an attempt on Washington's life. The painting depicts Washington presenting a string of wampum, through John Davison his Indian interpreter, to Half King (Tanacharison) at their first meeting on a bluff above the Ohio River at Logstown. Washington, with his guide Christopher Gist, Indian interpreter John Davison, French interpreter Jacob VanBraam, two servants, Maquire and Currin, and two Indian traders, Jenkins and Steward arrived there on November 24,1753. Half King, principal representative of the Iroquois six nation confederation was summoned from his hunting camp near the Beaver River and arrived at 3:00 the fol­lowing afternoon. Although other important leaders were present including Shingas the Delaware chief, Monacatoocha the Oneida chief and Teskakate the Shawnee chief, Washington and his Indian interpreter Davison met privately in his tent with Half King and informed him of his mission and requested directions and an escort to the French commander. Half King gave Washington a plan of Fort Erie and Fort LeBoeuf, drawn by his own hand, and set in motion the other aspects of Washington's request. Thus began an intertwined relationship of two of the most significant participants of the monumental events leading up to and into the French and Indian War.

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