Tanacharison or Tanaghrisson (c. 1700? –
4 October 1754) was an American Indian leader who played a pivotal role in the beginning of the French and Indian War. He was known to European-Americans as the Half King, a title also used to describe several other historically important American Indian leaders. His name has been spelled in a variety of ways.
Little is known of Tanacharison's early life. He may have been born into the Catawba tribe about 1700 near what is now
Buffalo, New York. As a child, he was taken captive by the French and later adopted into the Seneca tribe, one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. He would later claim that the French boiled and ate his father. His early years were spent on the southeastern shore of Lake Eriein what is now western New Yorkstate.
Becoming a leader
Tanacharison first appears in historical records in 1747, living in
Logstown(near present Ambridge, Pennsylvania), a multi-ethnic village about 20 miles (30 kilometers) downstream from the forks of the Ohio River. Those Iroquois who had migrated to the Ohio Countrywere generally known as " Mingos", and Tanacharison emerged as a Mingo leader at this time. According to the traditional explanation, the Iroquois Confederacy named Tanacharison as leader or "half-king" (as a sort of viceroy) to speak on behalf of the Iroquois Confederacy. According to this interpretation, Tanacharison, as half-king, was given the power by the Iroquois Grand Council to conduct diplomacywith other tribes and to act as spokesman to the British.
Modern historians who specialize in American Indian history generally doubt this interpretation. American Indians in the Ohio Country, almost all of whom were immigrants from other regions, lived in autonomous villages. Tanacharison was a village leader, and like all village headmen, his actual authority extended no further than his village. However, those village leaders who developed good relations with the European colonial leadership gained stature. Tanacharison was one of these leaders, and the title "half king" was likely a British invention. According to historian Michael McConnell, Tanacharison's "subsequent lofty historical role as a Six Nations "regent" or "viceroy" in the Ohio Country was the product of later generations of scholars." [Michael N. McConnell, "A Country Between: The Upper Ohio Valley and Its Peoples, 1724-1774" (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), p. 75.]
French and Indian War
In 1753, the French began the military occupation of the Ohio Country, driving out British traders and constructing a series of
forts. British colonies, however, also claimed the Ohio Country. Robert Dinwiddie, the lieutenant governorof Virginia, sent a young George Washingtonto travel to the French outposts and demand that the French vacate the Ohio Country. On his journey, Washington's party stopped at Logstown to ask Tanacharison to accompany them as a guide and as a "spokesman" for the Ohio Indians. Tanacharison traveled with Washington to meet with the French outpost at Fort Le Boeufin what is now Waterford, Pennsylvaniaand Fort Presque Isle(present Erie, Pennsylvania). The French refused to vacate, however, and to Washington's great consternation, they tried to court Tanacharison as an ally. Like most native leaders in the region, Tanacharison was carefully weighing his options.
Tanacharison accompanied George Washington in the spring of 1754 in an expedition to establish a fort at the strategic forks of the Ohio. Tanacharisson had advised the British to construct a "strong house" or fortress at the forks for the previous two years. As Washington approached the forks, he was horrified to discover that the French had beaten him to it and constructed
Fort Duquesne. Washington remained at his encampment at the Great Meadows, in what is now Fayette County, Pennsylvania(near Uniontown), awaiting reinforcements and further instructions. On May 27, 1754, Tanacharison sent word to Washington that a patrol of French soldiers was approaching Washington’s camp. He urged the attack, arguing that the French force planned to ambush Washington.
The next morning, Washington, Tanacharison, and a party of British soldiers surrounded the French soldiers and a fight broke out. In the fight, nine French soldiers were killed, 21 were captured, and two, including its commander Ensign
Joseph Coulon de Jumonville, were wounded. Washington was meeting with the wounded Jumonville shortly after the battle discussing terms when Tanacharisson approached Jumonville and tomahawked and killed him, saying, "Vous n'êtes pas mort encore mon père!" ("Thou are not dead yet, my father." in French) [Fred Anderson, "Crucible of War" (Vintage Books, 2001), p. 6.] The fight was later called the Battle of Jumonville Glen.
Some members of the French party had escaped to Fort Duquesne, informing the garrison of Washington's actions. The French and British were not at war and Washington's attack on the party of French soldiers was a major cause of the French and Indian War. The commander of Fort Duquesne, Jumonville's half-brother, Captain
Louis Coulon de Villiers, mounted an expedition to drive the British out. The French accused Washington of an unprovoked attack on a French diplomatic party and charged Washington and Tanacharisson with assassinating Jumonville.
Washington hastily erected a log fort named
Fort Necessityat Great Meadows and awaited reinforcements. Washington asked Tanacharison and another Seneca leader, Queen Alliquippa, to help defend the site against the French, but a quarrel over strategy erupted and Tanacharison viewed Washington's defenses as inadequate, calling Fort Necessity "that little thing upon the meadow." Outnumbered and with supplies running low, Washington was subsequently forced to surrender the fort.
Tanacharison moved his people east to the
Aughwick Valleynear present Shirleysburg, Pennsylvaniaand then further east to Susquehanna Rivervalley. He would take no active part in the remainder of the war. He died of pneumoniaon October 4, 1754on the farm of John Harris at Paxtang, Pennsylvania(near present-day Harrisburg, Pennsylvania).
* [http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=1674 Biography at the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online"]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Tanacharison — o Tanaghrisson (¿1700? 4 de octubre de 1754) fue un líder Indio Americano que jugó un importante papel en la Guerra Franco india. Era conocido por los europeos como Half King (Medio Rey), un título que también usaban para otros importantes… … Wikipedia Español
Battle of Jumonville Glen — Infobox Military Conflict conflict = PAGENAME partof=the Seven Years War French and Indian War caption = date = May 28, 1754 place = Near present day Uniontown, Pennsylvania result=British victory combatant1=flagicon|United Kingdom|1606 Great… … Wikipedia
Christopher Gist — (1706–1759) was an accomplished American explorer, surveyor and frontiersman. He was one of the first white explorers of the Ohio Country (the present day states of Ohio, eastern Indiana, western Pennsylvania, and northwestern West Virginia, USA) … Wikipedia
Logstown — The village of Logstown (also Logg s Town, French: Chiningue IPronounced Shenango) was a significant Native American settlement in Western Pennsylvania in the years leading to the French and Indian War. The original village was settled by… … Wikipedia
Guerra Franco-india — No debe confundirse con Guerras Franco indias. Guerra Franco india … Wikipedia Español
Town Destroyer — Not to be confused with Town class destroyer. Town Destroyer, also translated as Town Taker, Burner of Towns, or Devourer of Villages, was a nickname given to George Washington by Iroquois Indians. The name in its original language(s) has been… … Wikipedia
Military career of George Washington — General of the Armies George Washington Portrait of George Washington in military uniform, painted by Rembrandt Peale … Wikipedia
Batalla de Jumonville Glen — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Batalla de Jumonville Glen Parte de la Guerra Franco india (Guerra de los Siete Años) Fecha 28 d … Wikipedia Español
George Washington — ] Washington has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.Early lifeGeorge Washington was born on OldStyleDateDY|February 22|1732|February 11, 1731 the first son of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary … Wikipedia
October 4 — << October 2011 >> Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa 1 … Wikipedia