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of our country, have been generally considered as surpassing the skill, patience and industry of the Indian race; and various hypotheses have been advanced to prove them of Europeau origin.
“ An American writer of no inconsiderable repute pronounced some years ago, that the two forts at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers, one covering forty and the other twenty acres, were erected by Ferdinand de Soto, who landed with one thousand men in Florida in 1539, and penetrated a considerable distance into the interior of the country. He allotted the large fort for the use of the Spanish army; and after being extremely puzzled how to dispose of the small one in its vicinity, be at last assigned it to the swine, that generally, as he says, attended the Spaniards in those days; being in his opinion very necessary, in order to prevent them froin becoming estrays, and to protect them from the depredations of the Indians.
“ When two ancient forts, one containing six and the other three acres, were found near Lexington in Kentucky, another theory was propounded, and it was supposed that they were erected by the descendants of the Welch colony, wbo are said to have migrated under the auspices of Madoc to this country, in the twelfth century; that they formerly inhabited Kentucky ; but being attacked by the Indians, were forced to take refuge near the sources of the Missouri.
“Another suggestion has been made, that the French in their expeditions from Canada to the Mississippi, were the authors of these works: but the most numerous are to be found in the territory of the S. necas, whose hostility to the French was such, that tbey were not allowed for a long time to have any footing among them.* The fort at Niagara was obtained from them, by the intrigues and eloquence of Joncaire, an adopted child of the nation.t
* Colden, vol. 1. p. 61.
“ Louis Dennie, a Frenchman, aged upwards of seva enty, and who has been settled and married among the confederates for more than half a century, told me that according to the traditions of the ancient Indians, these forts were erected by an army of Spaniards, who were the first Europeans ever seen by them; the French the next; then the Dutch; and finally the English: that this army first appeared at Oswego in great force, and penetrated through the interior of the country, search: ing for the precious metals; that they continued there two years, and went down the Ohio.
« Some of the Senecas told Mr. Kirkland the missionary, that those in their territory were raised by their ancestors in their wars with the western Indians, three, four or five hundred years ago. All the cantons have traditions, that their ancestors came originally from the west ; and the Senecas say that theirs first settled in the country of the Creeks. The early histories mention, that the Iroquois first inhabited on the north side of the great lakes; that they were driven to their present territory in a war with the Algonkins or Adirondacks, from whence they expelled the Satanas. If these accounts are correct, the anicestors of the Sene. cas did not, in all probability, occupy their present territory, at the time they allege.
“I believe we may confidently pronounce, that all the hypotheses which attribute those works to Europeans, are incorrect and fanciful: Ist. On account of the present number of the works. 2d. On account of their antiquity; having, from every appearance, been erected a long time before the discovery of America ; and finally, their form and inanner are totally variant from European fortifications, either in ancient or modern times.
" It is equally clear that they were not the work of the Indians. Until the Senecas, who are renowned for their national vanity, had seen the attention of the Americans attracted to these erections, and bad invented the fabulous account of which I have spoken, the Indians of the present day did not pretend to know any
thing about their origin. They were beyond the reach of all their traditions, and were lost in the abyss of unexplored antiquity.
• The erection of such prodigious works must have been the result of labour, far beyond the patience and perseverance of our Indians; and the form and materials are entirely different from those which they are known to make. These earthen walls, it is supposed, will retain their original form much longer than those constructed with brick and stone. They have, undoubtedly, been greatly diminished by the wasbing away of the earth, the filling up of the interior, and the accunulation of fresh soil ; yet their firmness and solidity indicate them to be the work of some remote age. Add to this, that the Indians have never practised the mode of fortifying by entrenchments. Their villages or castles were protected by palisades; which afforded a sufficient defence against Indian weapons .
When Cartier went to Hochelaga, now Montreal, in 1535, he discovered a town of the Iroquois, or Hurons, containing about fifty buts. It was encompassed with three lines of palisadoes, through which was one entrance, well secured with stakes and bars. On the inside was a rampart of timber, to which were ascents by ladders; and heaps of stones were laid in proper places to cast at an enemy. Charlevoix and other writers agree, in representing the Indian fortresses as fabricated with wood. Such also were the forts of Sasacus, the great chief of the Pequots; and the principal fortress of the Narragansets was on an island in a swamp, of five or six acres of rising land: the sides were made with palisades set upright, encompassed with a hedge, of a rod in thickness.*
“I have already alluded to the argument for the great antiquity of those ancient forts, to be derived from the number of concentric circles. On the ramparts of one of the Muskingum forts, four hundred and sixty
* Mather's Magnalia, p. 693.
three were ascertained on a tree, decayed at the centre; and there are likewise the strongest marks of a former growth of a similar size. This would make those works near a thousand
old. “ But there is another consideration which has nev. er before been urged, and which appears to use to be not unworthy of attention. It is certainly novel, and I believe it to be founded on a basis, which cannot easily be subverted.
“ From near the Genessee river to Lewiston, on the Niagara river, there is a remarkable ridge or elevation of land, running almost the whole distance, which is seventy-eight miles, and in a direction from east to west. Its general altitude above the neighbouring land is thirty feet, and its width varies considerably: in some places it is not more than forty yards. Its elevation above the level of lake Ontario is perhaps one hundred and sixty feet, to which it descends by a gradual slope, and its distance from that water is between six and ten miles. This remarkable strip of land, would appear as if intended by nature for the purpose of an easy communication. It is, in fact, a stupendous natural turnpike, descending gently on each side, and covered with gravel; and but little labour is requisite to make it the best road in the United States. When the forests between it and the lake are cleared, the prospects and scenery
which will be afforded from a tour on this route to the cataract of Niagara, will surpass all competition for sublimity and beauty, variety and number.
“ There is every reason to believe, that this remarkable ridge was the ancient boundary of this great lake. The gravel with which it is covered was deposited there by the waters; and the stones every where indicate by their shape, the abrasion and agitation produced by that element. All along the borders of the western rivers and lakes, there are small mounds or heaps of gravel, of a conical forn, erected by the fish for the protection of their spawn; these fish banks are found in a state that cannot be mistaken, at the foot of the
ridge, on the side toward the lake; on the opposite side none have been discovered. All rivers and streams which enter the lake from the south, bave their mouths affected with sand in a peculiar way, from the prevalence and power of the north-westerly winds. The points of the creeks which pass througb this ridge, correspond exactly in appearance with the entrance of the streams into the lakes. These facts evince, beyond doubt, that Lake Ontario has, perhaps one or two thousand years ago, receded from this elevated ground. And tbe cause of this retreat must be ascribed to its having enlarged its former outlet, or to its imprisoned waters (aided, probably, by an earthquake) forcing a passage down the present bed of the St. Lawrence; as the Hudson did at the Highlands, and the Mohawk at the Little Falls. On the south side of this great ridge, in its vicinity, and in all directions through this country, the remains of numerous forts are to be seen: but, on the porth side, that is, on the side toward the lake not a single one has been discovered, although the whole ground has been carefully explored. Considering the distance to be, say, seventy miles in length, and eight in breadth, and that the border of the lake is the very place that would be selected for habitation, and consequently for works of defence, on account of the facilities it would afford for subsistence, for safety, for all domestic accommodations and military purposes ; and that on the south shores of Lake Erie, these ancient fortresses exist in great number, there can be no doubt but that these works were erected, when this ridge was the southern boundary of Lake Ontario, and, consequently, that their origin must be sought in a very re
“ A great part of North America was then inhabited by populous nations, who had made considerable advances in civilization. These numerous works could never have been supplied with provisions without the aid of agriculture. Nor could they have been constructed without the use of iron or copper ; and without a