CHABERT DE JONCAIRE DE CLAUSONNE, DANIEL-MARIE (he signed Joncaire Chaber), Indian agent, interpreter, and military officer; baptized 6 Jan. 1714 at Repentigny (Que.), son of Louis-Thomas Chabert* de Joncaire and Marie-Madeleine Le Gay de Beaulieu; m. 19 Jan. 1751 at Montreal Marguerite-Élisabeth-Ursule Rocbert de La Morandière; buried 5 July 1771 at Detroit.
Daniel-Marie Chabert de Joncaire has frequently been confused with his father and with his brother Philippe-Thomas*, both of whom were also agents of France among the Iroquois. By his own account Chabert went to live among the Iroquois as a young boy, and in the following years he resided for some time among the Ottawas, Ojibwas, and Shawnees also. As a young man, when not employed on military expeditions, he was travelling among the Indians “to cultivate friendship, check imprudence, dispel plots, or break off the treaties of these people with the enemy.” His influence was enhanced by his status as an adopted son of the Iroquois and the fact that he had a Seneca wife and children.
In 1739 and 1740 Chabert served with the force that travelled from Canada to the lower Mississippi valley to aid Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne* de Bienville in an attack on the Chickasaws, and he acted as interpreter in the subsequent negotiation of a peace treaty. He held the rank of cadet at this time but in 1748 was promoted ensign in the colonial regular troops.
Since 1701 the Iroquois had been officially neutral in the struggle between France and Britain, but pressure on them to take sides intensified during the 1740s and 1750s. Although the personal influence of Chabert and his brother was great, especially among the Senecas, William Johnson gained similar power among the Mohawks, and the Six Nations Confederacy was slowly torn apart. In 1748, when Philippe-Thomas resigned his position as principal agent among the Iroquois, he was replaced by Daniel-Marie. Despite Iroquois objections, Daniel-Marie began constructing a new fort, which became known as the little Niagara fort or Fort du Portage, about a mile and a half above the falls. It was intended to intercept furs that might otherwise have been taken to the British at Oswego (Chouaguen) once the difficult portage had been made. He commanded at the new post and was subsequently given a monopoly on the portage traffic. In 1757 he was promoted lieutenant.
During the 1750s, as Franco-British competition for influence among the Indians grew, Chabert made numerous visits to the various nations. On a 1758 mission to negotiate with the Iroquois and the Delawares he carried 80,000 livres in trade goods and 30,000 in presents. Demonstrations of British strength finally prevailed, however, and in 1759 the Iroquois allowed Johnson’s forces to besiege Fort Niagara (near Youngstown, N.Y.). Chabert was among the officers who signed the capitulation on 25 July. An exchange of prisoners in December brought him from New York to Montreal, and he served with the army under Lévis, who besieged Murray at Quebec in the spring of 1760. Chabert retreated with the rest of the troops to Montreal when the siege was lifted, and Governor Vaudreuil [Rigaud] sent him to gather Indians for the defence of that city.
Along with other French officers he left Canada in 1761, much to the relief of the British who feared his influence with the Indians. After stopping in England he crossed to France where he was imprisoned in the Bastille in connection with the affaire du Canada [see Bigot]. He maintained that because he had relied on Vaudreuil’s promise that losses would be charged to the king’s account, he used his own money and credit to provide goods to the Indians. His records had been destroyed at Fort du Portage when he burned it before moving his garrison to reinforce Fort Niagara in 1759, but he estimated that the king owed him 1,661,281 livres. At his trial he explained the considerable wealth he had had by claiming to have engaged in a profitable trade in ginseng; but it was the fur trade, in which he like other officers engaged despite orders, that was the source of his wealth. In 1763 the court found him guilty of carelessness in examining the inventories of provisions in the forts he commanded and warned him against repeating the offence – a virtual acquittal.
Chabert went to London after his trial and on 18 Oct. 1764 he unsuccessfully petitioned the king for land on the east bank of the Niagara River from the site of his former fort to and including the present Buffalo River, land that he asserted had been given to his father by the Iroquois. That same month Governor Murray was warned by British authorities that Chabert planned to return to Canada and should be hindered from going among the Indians. When he arrived with a large stock of trade goods bought in Britain, he was prevented by Murray from taking them to Niagara. Murray was soon succeeded by Guy Carleton*, and Chabert applied to the new governor for permission to trade with the Indians. Carleton took his side, arguing that there were no legal barriers to his going. After visiting Johnson personally in 1767 and assuring him of his future good conduct, Chabert was at last allowed to go to Detroit. A rumour soon reached Johnson that at Niagara Chabert had privately assured Gaustrax, a Seneca chief, that the French would return, an accusation Chabert denied.
All the delay had placed him in financial difficulties, and his situation was worsened by the rejection of his land claim at Niagara and the failure of his attempt to get compensation from France for his losses during the siege of Niagara. As well, the minister of Marine asserted that the bills of exchange Chabert sent for redemption bore false signatures and that if he were in France he would be arrested. He was reduced to begging permission from Johnson to write to the commander-in-chief, Major-General Gage, “that he may put my wife and children in the way to have a bit of bread, and that it would be shameful at my age to see me dragging out my life along the lakeside, to be the laughing stock to the entire rabble.” His fortunes seem to have improved in the year or two before his death in 1771 at Detroit.
AN, Col., D2C, 58, f.19; Marine, C7, 58 (dossier Joncaire-Chabert). Buffalo and Erie County Hist. Soc., Daniel Joncaire ms coll. Bougainville, “Journal” (A.-E. Gosselin), ANQ Rapport, 1923–24, 202–393. Coll. des manuscrits de Lévis (Casgrain), VII, 344, 483. Johnson papers (Sullivan et al.). NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), X, 39, 146, 234, 377, 392, 698. PAC Report, 1899, supp., 188–89; 1905, I, pt.vi, 104, 330, 390. “State papers,” PAC Report, 1890, 10, 14. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 325. F. H. Severance, An old frontier of France: the Niagara region and adjacent lakes under French control (2v., New York, 1917).
Cite This Article
in collaboration with Walter S. Dunn Jr, “CHABERT DE JONCAIRE DE CLAUSONNE, DANIEL-MARIE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed July 30, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/chabert_de_joncaire_de_clausonne_daniel_marie_4E.html.
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|Author of Article:||in collaboration with Walter S. Dunn Jr|
|Title of Article:||CHABERT DE JONCAIRE DE CLAUSONNE, DANIEL-MARIE|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1979|
|Year of revision:||1979|
|Access Date:||July 30, 2014|