is the fascinating story of George Croghan, Irish immigrant who
became one of the key intermediaries between the settlers and the
Indians during the westward expansion of the Pennsylvania frontier.
Students of 18th century Indian history are certainly familiar
with Braddock, Pontiac, Weiser, and Sir William Johnson, but in
George Croghan, we have perhaps the most fascinating and influential
of the great American frontiersmen on the early westward movement
across the Alleghenies into the Ohio country.
Coming to Pennsylvania in 1741 during the Irish potato famine,
George Croghan entered the Indian trade and soon became the colony’s
most prominent trader. No man led a more adventurous life in colonial
America. His name soon became legendary on the western frontier
and to advance his Indian business, Croghan promoted an Indian uprising
against the French. But at the same time he became a superlative
peacemaker, and in the period of the French and Indian War, Croghan’s
ability to understand and influence the Indians was unsurpassed.
Failing in Indian trade, Croghan acted as George Washington’s Indian
agent on his Fort Necessity campaign of 1754 and later served with
and survived Braddock’s fateful battle in 1755. 1756 saw Croghan
organize the defenses of Pennsylvania’s western border, but left
the colony’s service to become deputy under Sir William Johnson,
superintendent of the Six nations. He witnessed the desperate charge
of the Black Watch at Ticonderoga and marched with Forbes to capture
Fort Duquesne. He soothed the French leaning Indians at Detroit
so Roger’s Rangers could take over the fort and negotiated treaties
with Teedyuscung and hundreds of Indian chiefs and pacified Chief
Pontiac. Yet this tobacco chewing, heavy drinking, unschooled, high
living trader at times was much despised. But all it took was the
sound of his heavy Irish brogue and hardy laugh that could put even
the most suspicious at ease and along with his charm, wit and humor
help make him an idol on the frontier.
But Croghan’s mind was constantly stirred by visions of westward
colonization and he disastrously promoted this idea of western land
speculation to prominent men of the day. Unfortunately, the men
who trusted Croghan generally lost money and most came to distrust
him. During the American Revolution both America and the British
treated him as a traitor and in 1782 he died in Philadelphia a tired
and penniless man. This book, however, does not try to dwell on
Croghan’s private life but rather concentrates on giving the reader
a better understanding of the power and influence he had on the
events of the mid 18th century’s early westward movement.
Edition size of 1,000 numbered copies.
Hardback, (1926) reprint, 337pp., Was $39.95, now $29.95.