News

Home

                                  Ohio   Country

   
       Ohio Country history is poorly understood.  Its most significant person during its most significant time so far is George Croghan.  There follows the text, three quarter page narrative, and documentation for a Pennsylvania historical marker sumitted to the state's PHMC for 2010:

                         George Croghan (circa 1718-1782)

      Irish immigrant, King of the Traders, Onondaga Council sachem, Indian agent, Vandalia projecter.  Ohio Country's key figure from 1744's King George's War until accused of disloyalty in 1777, ordered to Philadelphia, and denied return to Croghan Hall when cleared.  His 1749 Indian deeds purchased as Celeron approached Logstown and totaling 200,000 excluded two square miles for future Fort Pitt.  Because Pennsylvania forbade large grants, Croghan gave indispensable aid to Virginia.

Three quarter page narrative:

     George Croghan emigrated from Dublin, Ireland in 1741 and within a few years was the most prominent Pennsylvania trader. During King George's War, 1744-1748, he organized an Indian revolt against the French and brought the Twightwee or Miami tribe into a British alliance. In 1746 Croghan was placed on the Onondaga Council. His 1926 biograper Albert T. Volwiler suggests that Croghan was the organizer of an Ohio Indian confederation of Iroquois, Delaware, Shawnee, Wyandot, and Twightwee headed by Mingo chiefs. By 1748 Pennsylvania was treating with the Ohio Confederation independently of the New York Six Nations.

     A few days before Céleron reached Logstown, the capitol of the Ohio Confederation, Scarouady and two other Iroquois sachems sold Croghan three local tracts totalling 200,000 acres, excluding two square miles at the Forks of the Ohio for a British fort. After arousing the interest of Pennsylvania's proprietors in building the fort, Croghan realized that his deeds would be disallowed if part of Pennsylvania and his associate, Andrew Montour, testified before Pennsylvania's Assembly that the Indians did not want the fort. Earlier in 1751, he and Montour had guided Virginia's Ohio Company scout Christopher Gist on a tour of Ohio Indian villages and in 1752 were on hand for the treaty that permitted the Ohio Company to build the fort and bring settlers to Ohio Country, Montour translating and Croghan as an Indian counselor.

     His business partner, William Trent, became the Ohio Company's factor and captain in charge of building Fort Prince George, surrendered to the French in 1754 by Croghan's half-brother Edward Ward. Croghan and Montour were appointed captains by Governor Dinwiddie, with Croghan as Indian agent for Col. Washington, positions they would also hold the following year for Gen. Braddock. After the Battle of the Monongahela, Pennsylvania had Croghan build and garrison forts Granville, Pomfret Castle, and Lyttleton, as he had his Aughwick plantation, Fort Shirley. Shortly afterward Croghan became William Johnson's chief Deputy Indian agent.

     Croghan was unparalleled as a peacemaker and Indian negotiator, facilitating the Forbes campaign and takeover of French forts, lobbying the Board of Trade in London, bringing Pontiac to Ft. Detroit, and pacifying hostile tribes in Illinois. His purchase of 250,000 acres in New York led to his financial collapse. He resigned as Indian agent in 1771 to establish a 14thcolony, Vandalia. He was Virginia's chief judge and Committee of Safety head in Pittsburgh until falsely accused of disloyalty, despite his success in keeping the Ohio Indians neutral.

Documention provided Pennsylvania's PHMC for the text and narrative:

     A chronological approach reveals the dawning awareness of historians that before the Revolutionary War, Croghan was the key figure in Ohio Country for two to three decades, the latter period beginning with his appointment to the Onondaga Council in 1746. 

   In his two volume The Olden Time first published in Pittsburgh as a monthly periodical between Jan. 1746 and Dec. 1748, Neville B. Craig reprints in his 584 page Vol. I: George Croghan's “journal of travels from Ft. Pitt to Vincennes and Ft. Detroit in 1765,” his journal for May 22, 1768 regarding Indian conferences he held at Ft. Pitt, several references to him as General Braddock's Indian interpreter in 1755 and in George Washington's 1770 journal, and under the heading “First Meeting of Representatives of the French and English Authorities on the Ohio,” two pages of Croghan's journal in May, 1751 upon arriving at Logstown where he confronted Philippe Thomas Joncaire. 

     Craig's Index to Vol. II takes notice of Croghan on pp. 9-13 concerning Dunmore's War, Richard Butler's reference to Croghan's role as chairman of Pittsburgh's Committee of Safety in placing Alexander McKee on parole, and the April 12, 1755 letter Croghan wrote Pa. Gov. Morris concerning threats to Pennsylvania by Sir John St. Clair, Gen. Braddock's quartermaster.

     Originally published in Harrisburg, Pa. in 1846, I. D. Rupp, “a gentleman of the Harrisburg Bar,” makes do with only two indexed references to Croghan in his 352 page narrative section of Early History of Western Pennsylvania, (Wennawoods Pub., 1995) ,  a brief mention regarding Braddock's dismissal of most of the Indians Croghan had brought from Aughwick and a long footnote detailing the intelligence one of Croghan's Indian spies gathered on the Allegheny and Ohio, shared at a Jan., 1755 Carlisle conference with Gov. Morris and the other Pennsylvania officials. 

     A sharp contrast to Croghan's marginal significance in Rupp's narrative is his 400 page Appendix, which includes Croghan's Dec. 16, 1750 letter informing Gov. Hamilton that the Ohio chiefs want “a fort on this river” (p. 25), more of Croghan's 1751 journal at Logstown than Craig's two pages (pp. 26-34), Croghan's journal from Jan. 12, 1754 when he arrived at John Fraser's Turtle Creek house soon after Washington and Gist had been there returning from their embassy to the French to Croghan's February 2nd conference with the Logstown chiefs as French forces prepared to descend the Allegheny (pp. 50-53), minutes to Croghan's conferences at Ft. Pitt in July, 1759 that re-established peace with the Ohio tribes following Forbes' campaign, (pp. 133-38), Croghan's journal at Ft. Pitt from Feb. 28 to May 12, 1765 when he brough Pontiac to Ft. Detroit (pp. 166-79), and the minutes of a Ft. Pitt conference in April and May, 1768 following a series of murders of frontier Indians and by Frederick Stump in central Pennsylvania that Croghan persuaded the Ohio Indians not to avenge (pp. 181-202).

     Although John Lewis Peyton's 1882
Peyton's History of Augusta County, Virginia (Stauton, Va.: Yost Pub.) has only one Croghan item, it is the historically invaluable redeed on Nov. 4, 1768 at Fort Stanwix by six Iroquois chiefs of Croghan's 200,000 acre 1749 grant, including the three original deeds (pp. 74-77), viewable on the internet.

     An eminent Ohio Country historian in 1893, William M. Darlington, wrote that Croghan was “the most conspicuous name in Western Annals, in connection with Indian Affairs for twenty five years preceding the Revolutionary War,” quoted in William C. Campbell's conclusion (p. 134) of “An Adverse Patron: Land, Trade, and George Croghan,” Pennsylvania History, 76(2), 2009: 117-140. Earlier in his article, Campbell asserted that “it is clear that Croghan defined the direction of significant colonial events during the two decades that preceded the American Revolution (p. 119). 

     Charles A. Hanna's 1911 two volume The Wilderness Trail or The Ventures and Adventures of the Pennsylvania Traders on the Allegheny Path (Wennawoods Pub. 1995) mainly covers what he calls “. . . the growing age of the American colonies. It extended from 1692, when white men—twelve New York Traders, led by Arnold Viele—seem first to have reached the Ohio Valley, to 1752, when five of George Croghan's Traders were captured by the French Indians at the siege of Pickawillany (Hanna, p. xxiii).” An 85 page biography “George Croghan, the King of the Traders” comprises the first two chapters of Vol. II and more than one hundred other references in Wilderness Trail are evidence of Croghan's pre-eminence as a trader and of his central role on the frontier.

     On his first page of Vol. II, Hanna writes concisely that: 

       Croghan came to America from Ireland in 1741
        . . . licensed trader in 1744 . . . Councillor of
       the Six Nations in 1746 . . . 'never been deemed
       a Roman Catholic . . . education . . . in Dublin'
       . . . first appears in the official correspondence
       of Pennsylvania as writing to Secretary Peters,
       May 24, 1747, that he had returned from the
       woods, bringing a letter, a French scalp, and
       some wampum, for the Governor from a party
       of the Six Nations having their dwelling on the
       borders of Lake Erie (at Cayahoga), who had
       formerly been in the French interest; and who
       now, thanks to Croghan's diplomacy, had, with
       'all-most all the Ingans in the Woods,' declared
       against the French . . . laid before the
       Pennsylvania Council by Mr. Peters June 8th,
       with the information that Mr. Croghan was a
       considerable Indian Trader, and, 'had traded
       . . . with a nation of Indians called [Wyandots]
       who were formerly in the French interest, but
       are now come over and have begun hostilities,
       along with some the Six Nations, against the
       French . . . Croghan went to Logstown in April,
       1748, with a message and present from the
       Pennsylvania Council to the Ohio Indians. He
       returned again in August, when Weiser carried
       a larger present . . . was sent to Logstown again
       in August, 1749, to counteract the influence of
       Celeron's visit . . . (Hanna, Vol. II, p. 1).

     William Vincent Byars' 1916 B. and M. Gratz, Merchants of Philadelphia (Hugh Stevens Pub. Co., Jefferson City, Mo.) offers the following assessment of Croghan based on a study of the history of the period and the letters and papers of the Jewish merchant brothers to whom Croghan entrusted the administration of his estate: 

       Of Croghan, it may be said from what is most
       characteristic in his life, that if Congress had
       continued him in its service, he would have been,
       first of all, true to every kinsman and friend of
       his past, Whig or Tory, white or red, but he 
       would have risked his life and all that remained
       of fortune in the service of Congress, as a matter
       of routine duty, as he had done for the King.
       Although his ideas of diplomacy might have
       fitted best the character of a British prime
       minister or a war sachem of the Six Nations, the
       great pioneer, now half-broken hearted, has
       against his record in the Gratz Papers and their
       related documents, no suggestion that he ever
       betrayed any one whose confidence he had
       invited. Now in his old age (and during much of
       the time at Lancaster to which he had removed,
       dependent on the Gratz brothers to advance him
       the necessaries of life) he continued to struggle
       to meet his obligations (Byars, p. 24).

     Byars' chronolgical summary of western history from 1748 to 1776 has Croghan at the center of events (Appendix III, pp. 340-354). In a footnote following the summary, Byars says that its purpose is “to show the connection of events which are usually treated as unconnected incidents . . . that the results of plan, operating during a quarter of a century, might be more nearly self-evident. During the next twenty-five years history developed from these plans, but . . . cannot be understood except through this history, as made between 1748 and 1776” (Byars, p. 354).

     Albert T. Volwiler's 1926 biography George Croghan and the Western Movement (Wennawoods, 2000) of 370 pages expands on Hanna's information, if tentatively at times, as in: “A new factor appeared, perhaps a shrewd move due to Croghan, when on November 12, 1747, ten Iroquois from the Ohio representing five hundred warriors arrived unexpectedly in Philadelphia. It was the first offical visit that any Ohio Indians had ever made to Philadelphia” (Volwiler, p. 61). A present was promised them, the one Hanna mentions Weiser and Croghan delivering in August, 1748, after Croghan had brought a small one in April with an explanation for Weiser's delay in coming (Hanna, p. 1 Vol. II). Volwiler is the best source for what happened between these two 1748 Logstown gifts: 

       Croghan was probably responsible for the
       departure of a delegation of Shawnee and
       Miami (Twightwee) Indians from the Ohio for
       Lancaster, within a few weeks after he had
       distributed the present. He, himself, returned
       home about the same time and then proceeded
       to Lancaster where he announced the coming of
       the Indians and stated their desires. Weiser,
       Montour, Peters, four members of the council,
       the magistrates of Lancaster County, Croghan,
       and some other local inhabitants met with the
       fifty-five Indians of various tribes at the
       courthouse in Lancaster from July 19 to July 23,
       1748. At this treaty the Shawnee who had
       robbed some English traders were again
       received as allies. The Six Nations then
       introduced the Miami who were received as
       English allies. They were located four hunded
       miles further west than the delegation which
       had visited Philadelphia the preceding
       November. They hoped to influence twelve
       neighboring tribes to make a treaty with the
       English. Croghan was one of the signers of
       this treaty” (Volwiler, pp. 64-65).

Volwiler has a footnote that speaks to the significance of the treaty: 

       . . . the River Ouabache [Wabash] takes its rise
       from a lake at a small distance from the West
       end of Lake Erie, from which it runs South-
       westerly 4 or 500 Miles, and falls into the Ohio
       about 300 miles from the Mississippi; that on
       this river and another river called the Hatchet,
       the Twightwees and their Allies have Twenty
       Towns, and that they count one thousand
       fighting Men . . . it is Manifest that if these
       Indians and their Allies prove faithful to the
       English, the French will be deprived of the
       nearest and most convenient communication
       with their forts on the Mississippi . . . President
       and Council to the Proprietors, July 30, 1748
       . . . Palmer's message to the Assembly,
       Aug. 24, 1748 (Volwiler, pp. 65-66).

     Accompanying Weiser, Croghan, and Montour to Logstown in August, 1748 with the Pennsylvania present was Benjamin Franklin's nineteen-year-old son William, “a significant incident” (Volwiler, p. 66), for “in later years this led to their active association with Croghan in projects to establish new colonies beyond the mountains” (Volwiler, p. 67). But the more immediate result was the increasingly violent French reaction to the Lancaster Treaty's threat to their trade and Wabash communication line. The 1748 conference would be Weiser's only journey to Ohio Country. Henceforth, Croghan would negotiate for Pennsylvania, as he was already doing for the Ohio Indians, although it would not be until the Lancaster Treaty of 1753 that the Ohio Indian spokesman Scarouady would officially say so (Wainwright, p. 55). 

     Nicholas B. Wainwright's 1959 George Croghan, Wilderness Diplomat (Chapel Hill, NC: U. of North Carolina Press) is the most recent full biography, sparked by the discovery of a lost trunkful of Croghan's personal papers with him when he died in 1782. Picking up on Croghan's story in 1749, Céleron reached Logstown on August 5th and, according to Wainwright, had come and gone before Croghan “arrived sometime after August 8” (Wainwright, p. 27). Wainwright calls Croghan's August 2, 1749 purchase of 200,000 Ohio country acres “a momentous event in his life” (p. 28) and on the same page cites the Onondaga Council's 1768 confirmation of it. “Under Croghan's leadership the traders erected a stockaded fort” (Wainwright, p. 31) at Pickawillany, where Croghan spent the winter of 1749-50 and where the Twightwee sachem Croghan had dubbed “Old Briton placed himself at the head of a new conspiracy to destroy the French” (p. 31), the previous leader, a Wyandot chief named Nicholas, having died.

     The following winter Croghan and Montour conducted Christopher Gist through Ohio Country. Gist “was searching for lands suitable for settlement by the Ohio Company, a subject he did not dare mention to the Indians or traders” (Wainwright, p. 37). If Wainwright includes Croghan among those being duped, subsequent events demonstrate otherwise. At this time, winter, 1751, Croghan wrote Peters that the Ohio Indians wanted a fort (Wainwright, p. 40), a request formally made in a May conference at Logstown (Wainwright, p. 42), but denied by Andrew Montour in testimony before Pennsylvania's Assembly (p. 43). Croghan had Montour sign a retraction, but “no one was convinced by the interpreter's about-face . . . Croghan's moment had passed . . . the colony defaulted its leadership in the West to Virginia's Ohio Company” (Wainwright, p. 44). 

     In discussing the reason for Croghan's support of Virginia in its border dispute with Pennsylvania during the 1770s and in regard to the 1768 Fort Stanwix Treaty (Wainwright, p. 257), Wainwright says that “Pennsylvania would not recognize his Indian grant if it fell within the province” (Wainwright, p. 277), yet fails to see it motivating Croghan's work for the Ohio Company in the 1750s. At the June, 1752 Logstown treaty, Andrew Montour is the interpreter and Croghan “one of our council” (Wainwright, p. 50) when the Ohio Indians grant the Ohio Company permission to build a fort and settle on their land.

     At the same time, June, 1752, occurs the terminal incident of Hanna's The Wilderness Trail, the attack on Pickawillany by French Indians under Charles Langlade (Wainwright, p. 50), who would also lead them against Washington in 1754 and Braddock in 1755. If the Twightwee alliance with the British has meaning, the 1752 attack on Pickawillany is the opening engagement of the French and Indian War. 

     Croghan's business partner, William Trent (Wainwright, p. 34), was “appointed factor of the Ohio Company in 1752 . . . in July, 1753 . . . designated . . . to build . . their fort on the Ohio River and . . . a wagon road from . . . Wills Creek to the mouth of Redstone Creek on the Monongahela River” (Wainwright, p. 58). Croghan felt “obligd to stay and assist” (Wainwright, p. 59) Trent in February, 1754. “Croghan's half-brother Ensign Edward Ward” (Wainwright, p. 61) surrendered the fort to the French on April 17, 1754. Montour and Croghan were commissioned captains under Col. Washington by Governor Dinwiddie on June 1, 1754 (Wainwright, p. 63), with Croghan as Indian agent, as would General Edward Braddock in May, 1755 (Wainwright, p. 87).

     In December, 1756, Pennsylvania's “commissioners made Croghan a captain and ordered him to return to Cumberland County, build the new fortresses, and recruit their garrisons” (Wainwright, p. 102), but he resigned in disgust in March when censured for his expenses (Wainwright, p. 106). By spring, 1756 Croghan had moved to New York, where Indian Superintendent William Johnson “appointed the Pennsylvanian at a salary of £200 to act as his deputy” (Wainwright, p. 113). 

     “The other Indian agents, the traders, and army officers conceded that Croghan was without peer as a western negotiator. He was a superlative peacemaker. In the era before the Revolution, he was unequalled in the field of western Indian diplomacy” (Wainwright, p. 308). Croghan's “Easton treaty of 1758 was the most important Indian conference ever held in Pennsylvania. [Pennsylvania Governor] Denny attributed Forbes's subsequent victory to the effects of this treaty, an opinion of his on which even the Assembly agreed” (Wainwright, p. 150).

     A journey to London in 1764 to gain the Board of Trade's approval of Croghan's land claims and new Illinois colony was unsuccessful, but regarding a lobbying campaign worked out with Johnson to reform Indian affairs, “there is reason to believe that he was instrumental in guiding its thinking on the organization of the Indian department and on the necessity of running a new Indian boundary” (Wainwright, p. 208).  

     Armed with the tentative, verbal, and easily deniable authority of the Lord's of Trade and their unapproved plan (Wainwright, p. 209), Croghan asserted the Indian department's independence of military and civil authority once back in America, occasioning bitterness in Col. Bouquet and rebellion in Pennsylvania's Black Boys (Hanna, II, p. 32) over Croghan's clandestine Indian trade. At this time, fall, 1764, he purchased, luxuriously furnished, and staffed with servants Monckton Hall near Philadelphia (Wainwright, pp. 210-11), hardly possible if his £200 annual salary as Johnson's Deputy Indian agent was his only source of income.

     “Impure as Croghan's motive was, he did believe that the success of his mission depended on his power to open the trade at Fort Pitt, Detroit, and the Illinois country" (Wainwright, p. 215). However, his most spectacular accomplishment in pacifying the West, Croghan's bringing Pontiac to Ft. Detroit as recorded in his 1765 journal and printed in Craig's 1748 Olden Time, he said “he owed all to his misfortune of being captured and plundered, he ruefully added: 'I got the stroke of a hatchett on the head, but my scull being pretty thick, the hatchet would not enter, so you may see a thick scull is of service on some occasions'” (Wainwright, p. 223). 

     After his Indian purchases at the Fort Stanwix, Croghan lived for a year on New York's Lake Otsego, accumulating more than 250,000 acres and large debts that could not be repaid, the subject of Wainwright's chapter entitled “Croghan Forest” (Wainwright, pp. 259-71). “Croghan arrived at Fort Pitt on July 2, 1770, unaware that the seven days he intended to stay at Croghan Hall were to lengthen into seven years” (Wainwright, p. 271). To better serve the creation of a new colony, Vandalia, Croghan resigned as Johnson's Deputy on “November 2, 1771” (Wainwright, p. 281). During the Virginia, Pennsylvania border dispute, “Dunmore adjourned his Augusta county court from Stauton to Pittsburgh. Croghan served as president judge of this court from its inception” (Wainwright, p. 294) in 1775, also the year a revolutionary committee of correspondence formed in Pittsburgh “headed by Croghan as chairman” (p. 294). 

     In August, 1777, Ft. Pitt's Gen. Edward Hand ordered Croghan to Philadelphia as a suspected loyalist:

       Two weeks later, General Howe and the
       victorious British army occupied the city.
       Croghan, bedridden again with the gout, could
       not escape. Howe promptly called Croghan to
       headquarters and berated him for serving as a
       committeeman at Pittsburgh and for neutralizing
       the Lake Indians. The general ordered him to
       take lodgings in town, where he was billeted
       with two officers who kept him under constant
       scrutiny (Wainwright, p. 301). 

     The British evacuated Philadelphia in June, 1778. “Croghan was ordered to accompany their prisoners . . . an old friend, Major General James Robertson interceded” (Wainwright, p. 302) and he remained in town on parole, but upon its return to power the state of Pennsylvania accused Croghan of having joined the enemy armies (Wainwright p. 302).

   Cleared during a court trial on November 12, 1778: 

       He would have liked to return to
       Pittsburgh to protect his real estate holdings
       . . . but it seemed unwise. When his clerk went
       back to Pittsburgh earlier in the year, General
       Hand had arrested him on suspicion of disloyalty.
       Moreover, while Croghan awaited trial, word came
       east that Hand had executed [Croghan's cousin
       and business partner] Smallman for treason. The
       rumor was false, but, nonetheless, unsettling.
       Croghan subsequently had to order Smallman
       not to write because of the danger of the times
      (Wainwright,  p. 303).

     Banishment from Croghan Hall, his only home and trading post in 1778, also struck at the Irishman's livelihood and influence on the frontier. A rival for that influence since their first clash over it in 1754 took command of the Continental Army in 1775 and was therefore ultimately responsible for the military decision that impoverished Croghan and stripped the frontier of its best potector(qanda.encyclopedia.com/.../under-circumstances-did-george-washington-charge-george-croghan-treason-351366.html). 

     William J. Campbell's “An Adverse Patron: Land, Trade, and George Croghan” (Pennsylvania History, 76:2, 2009) is the story of a “known soundrel” (p. 118): “By detailing the complicated web of self-interest, it is clear that Croghan defined the direction of significant colonial events during the two decades that preceded the American Revolution” (p. 119). Campbell's conclusion quotes Darlington's “twenty five years” and says his own study does “much to illustrate Darlington's claims” (p. 134.), as do those of Croghan's biographers and Ohio Country historians.

     Croghan scholars earlier than Wainwright contended with a tradition that dismissed Croghan as obscure and dishonest. Overwhelmingly, the evidence they uncovered went against what remains the popular perception of Croghan. Wainwright seems to support the traditional negative view of Croghan even as he presents new evidence that undermines it and validates his predecessors. A Crogham traditionalist, Campbell seeks to “counterbalance a history that has tended to portray Croghan as a dedicated Crown agent” (p. 119), citing Alfred A. Cave, Wainwright, Darlington, and William Trent's biographer, Sewell Slick in his footnote as his opposition. Byars, Hanna, and Volwiler can be included as even stronger supporters of Croghan's character. Additional support is on the internet and in other Ohio Country histories.

7/22/11 Update on Ohio Country.  The following graph is page 24 of Eric Hinderaker's 1997 Illusive Empires; Constructing Colonialism in the Ohio Vally, 1673-1800.

Croghan's impact on PA fur trade 

 
Hinderaker refers the reader to the graph in his text on page 42: "The Pennsylvania traders immediately added Pickawillany to their trading circuit.  George Croghan, John Frazier, Hugh Crawford, and their associates and employees began to reap astonishing rewards from their new contacts with the Miamis, as the records of the Pennsylvania's fur and skin exports for these years illustrate (Fig 2)."

Croghan's role in the creation of Pickawillany, renaming its chief Old Briton in place of the French Demoiselle for instance, does not come into focus for Hinderaker, a critical lapse, but Croghan's impact on the fur trade is clearly seen in the graph.  Until more recent work like Illusive Empires appeared, Croghan's agency in the defining events of his period was found almost exclusively in his biographers, among the fifteen page bibliography of cited materials Hinderaker consulted.  Charles Hanna's 1911 Wilderness Trail, two volumes concluding with the destruction of Picawillany, is the first lengthy account of Croghan's life, followed by Volwiler's 1925 Western Movement, and finally in 1959, Wainwright's Wilderness Diplomat, with its wealth of new information and even to Wainwright, unsatisfactory interpretation, a flaw that perpetuates itself in uncritical followers of Wainwright.

After outdoing Wainwright by claiming that Sir William Johnson as well as Croghan came from humble backgrounds, Hinderaker quotes Wainwright below, illustrating how the traditional view of Croghan as a low-born, ignorant, scoundrel survives at the expense of history and in the face of the evidence:

p. 167. “Johnson and his partners fully recognized the conflict between his public role and private interests; when the Illinois Company made its proposal, the partners decided it would be prudent to keep Johnson's membership in the company a secret. Croghan's swirling involvements in speculative schemes went to his head as well. After a trip to London in 1764 that brought him in contact with a number of well-connected agents and administrators for colonial affairs, he returned to Pennsylvania with a sudden and insatiable appetite for finery. Despite his lifelong flirtation with insolvency, he purchased a large estate outside Philadelphia called Monckton Hall and immediately filled it with unconscionably expensive things: carpets from Scotland, Irish linens, furniture that included, as one of his biographers has enumerated with bewilderment, 'a dozen mahogany chairs upholstered in green damask, . . . mahogany tables, desks, bookcases, commodes, backgammon tables, and, of all things, an expensive spinet.' Thanks to his unique familiarity with western lands, Croghan also found himself corresponding with some of the brightest lights in the English-speaking world. Here, too, he was in over his head. In a letter to Benjamin Franklin purportedly from Croghan but clearly written by another hand, he was made to say that he was 'much gratified, That the Elephant Bones [which Croghan had collected in Kentucky and sent to Franklin] were acceptable to you; and with your opinion on those animals once inhabiting this part of the Globe.' A reader can only suspect that the sentiment of this letter, no less than the orthography, lay outside the most pressing interests of Croghan's supremely practical mind.”

Hindraker's appalling claptrap is in sharp contrast to an historical account of this period in Croghan's life.  He went to London primarily to have his 200,0000 acre Indian purchase validated and to gain reparations for trader and merchant losses during the French and Indian War.  The Lords of Trade declined to do either, but gave tentative approval for two secondary requests: to move the Indian boundary line that the Board had established the year before, 1763, to the Ohio River and to make the Indian Department independent of military control.  An investigation into the causes of Pontiac's Rebellion was in progress and Croghan's testimony convinced the Lords that if given the authority, he would prevent such expensive, bloody outbreaks in the future.  They did not, however, sanction his request to begin a new British colony in Illinois Country on the eastern bank of the upper Mississippi River, the border of the vast Northwest territory won from the French in the recent war.  Except for Dumore's War against the Cherokees and despite the continual murders of Indians on the frontier, Croghan kept the peace with the Ohio Indians from his return in 1764 until 1777 when he was accused of treason and banished from his home, business, and seat of influence, Pittsburgh's Croghan Hall.  Croghan's role in history has yet to be attributed to him, although it is obvious and well-documented.  Instead, he is caricatured and relentlessly impugned, "over his head" in dictating a letter to Benjamin Franklin, "made to say" 'much gratified' by his clerk, buying "unconscionably expensive things."  What nonsense!