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Pontiac

Pontiac

Pontiac (ca. 1720-1769), Ottawa chief and leader of the famed uprising that bears his name, was a pawn in the fight between the British and the French for supremacy in the Great Lakes region.

Pontiac was born probably on the Maumee River, of a Chippewa mother and Ottawa father. His youth is obscure, but he grew to become a sachem (chief) of the combined Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi tribes. Possibly he was present at the Chippewa defeat of Gen. Edward Braddock in 1755, when his tribes were under French influence during the French and Indian War.

In 1760, when British and American colonial troops marched to fight the French at Detroit, Pontiac met the force and learned of the British victory at Quebec. He smoked the peace pipe with the British and even helped them take Detroit, but he did not get the recognition for this that he felt he deserved. Thus in 1762, when he heard that the French were going to reinvade, he turned against the British and tried to organize a vast Indian conspiracy against them.

Pontiac rallied tribes in the vicinity of the Great Lakes to a great conference near Detroit in April 1763. Here he made a stirring speech, calling the tribes simultaneously to attack the nearest British posts. He personally led the attack on Detroit on May 7, 1763. However, his plan became known to the British, and all he could do was lay siege to the post, eventually retreating. The Conspiracy of Pontiac, as this uprising was known, did succeed in capturing 8 of the 12 posts attacked, and it inflamed the entire western frontier. And Pontiac did manage one victory, the Battle of Bloody Ridge on July 31, 1763, at which his warriors killed 60 of the 250 British troops.

Yet Pontiac's confederation quickly fell apart. In October 1763 part of the Ottawa made peace with the British, and Pontiac followed in a preliminary peace on October 31. Yet he continued to fight sporadically, not concluding a final peace with the British until July 1766.

In the spring of 1769 Pontiac visited the vicinity of St. Louis, and there on April 20 he was clubbed to death by a Peoria Indian warrior, possibly at British urging. Some contemporary accounts referred to Pontiac as a coward, and others spoke of him as only a local renegade; however, he did achieve a remarkable confederation of dissident Native American tribes, and he caught the popular imagination to become a romantic figure.

Further Reading

The standard, if somewhat romantic, account of Pontiac and his rebellion is Francis Parkman, The History of the Conspiracy of Pontiac (1851). More reliable is Howard H. Peckham, Pontiac and the Indian Uprising (1947). Milo M. Quaife edited some of the contemporary accounts in The Siege of Detroit in 1763: The Journal of Pontiac's Conspiracy, and John Rutherfurd's Narrative of a Captivity (1958). □

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Pontiac

Pontiac (c. 1720–1769), Ottawa war leader.Championed as the “great chief” who headed Pontiac's Rebellion, Pontiac's significance lies in the way he reflected, rather than created, intertribal militancy following the Seven Years' War.

Sources first mention Pontiac at Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh) in 1757, but definitively he appears in the record only in May 1763. Foiled in his attempt that month to surprise and capture British Fort Detroit, Pontiac and his multitribal allies besieged it until October. Pontiac may have directed, though he certainly did not lead, the successful attacks on the British forts Sandusky (Ohio) and St. Joseph (Michigan). These actions inspired frontier raiding, the elimination of seven other British posts by July 1763, and the Delaware and Shawnee siege of Fort Pitt.

By late 1763 and throughout 1764, Pontiac endeavored to draw support from French garrisons in Illinois. Failing again, he retreated with the British at Detroit in July 1765, confirming peace at Oswego a year later.

By 1768, his reputation among Ottawas had fallen and he became an exile in lower Illinois. There, at Cahokia in April 1769, perhaps in retaliation for his killing of an Illinois Indian in 1766, a Peoria clubbed and stabbed Pontiac to death.
[See also Native American Wars.]

Bibliography

Howard H. Peckham , Pontiac and the Indian Uprising, 1947.
Richard White , The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815, 1991.

Gregory Evans Dowd

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"Pontiac." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Pontiac." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pontiac

"Pontiac." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pontiac

Pontiac (Ottawa chief)

Pontiac, fl. 1760–66, Ottawa chief. He may have been the chief met by Robert Rogers in 1760 when Rogers was on his way to take possession of the Western forts for the English. Although the Native American uprising against the English colonists just after the French and Indian Wars is known as Pontiac's Rebellion or Pontiac's Conspiracy, Pontiac's role is uncertain. He definitely was present at the siege of Detroit, and encouraged other tribes to fight the British, but most of the actual fighting and strategy was probably planned independently by other Native American leaders. After the rebellion had failed and a treaty had been concluded (1766), Pontiac is supposed to have gone west and to have been murdered by Illinois at Cahokia. This story is, however, accepted by few authorities.

See bibliography under Pontiac's Rebellion.

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"Pontiac (Ottawa chief)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Pontiac (Ottawa chief)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pontiac-ottawa-chief

"Pontiac (Ottawa chief)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pontiac-ottawa-chief

Pontiac (city, United States)

Pontiac, industrial city (1990 pop. 71,166), seat of Oakland co., SE Mich., on the Clinton River; founded 1818 by promoters from Detroit, inc. as a city 1861. Industries developed early and expanded after the railroad came. Carriage making, important in the 1880s, gave way to the automobile industry and the manufacture of trucks, buses, and automotive parts. Pontiac still is an auto-manufacturing center, but on a much smaller scale since the decline of the U.S. auto industry in the 1970s and 80s. Chemicals, ferrous and nonferrous metals, wood products, and electrical equipment are also manufactured. The city was named for the Ottawa chief Pontiac, who is said to be buried nearby. The Silverdome sports and entertainment complex is there. Numerous state parks and several hundred lakes are in the area.

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"Pontiac (city, United States)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Pontiac (city, United States)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pontiac-city-united-states