Meanwhile, the great business expectations were not being fulfilled. This was a great disappointment to the Crown. The traffic of peltries had been the main reason behind French and British quarrels in North America for the preced- ing hundred years. The loss of revenue was even more injurious to the British treasury because the maintenance of garrisons in the West was so high. Between September 1766 and September 1767, the expense alone in gifts and subsidies to the Indians permanently residing around Fort de Chartres (including the three to four thousand who came to the annual Spring Rendez-vous) amounted to 6,000 pounds. Fighting smugglers on water was also expensive - the armament and maintenance of a small galley to patrol the Mississippi cost 2,000 pounds from 1767 to 1768. 16
On August 24 1770, the French inhabitants assembled in Kaskaskia and resolved to send a delegation to see General Gage in New York to ask for a civil government. The two Frenchmen sent by the five villages reached New York one year later with an outline of a local constitution which was rejected by Gage. Instead, Gage proposed a plan which would combine a few representative voices of the community with a larger number of appointed officers of the crown.l7 He also sent an officer to Illinois, Major Isaac Hamilton who met with the popula- tion during the summer of 1772.
Colonel Wilkins, against whom serious charges regarding the finances of the regiment had been sworn by junior officers, was dismissed from the service during September 1772. Major Hamilton took over temporarily the responsibili- ties of command and turned them over to Captain Hugh Lord before returning to New York. That year, Captain Lord had to abandon Fort de Chartres after a dis- astrous flood which ruined the western wall, and moved the Fort to Kaskaskia, renamed "Fort Gage."
During the next two years, Captain Lord with a greatly reduced garrison, was able to gain the confidence of the French subjects through a consistent good-will policy. The French seemed to have given up on the matter of a civil government and concerned themselves with day-to-day subsistence. Lord re- ported to Gage in 1773 that "The little money that circulates now comes first from the troops."18 The area would have been ripe for colonization by British settlers, the French having lost much of their spirit. Ironically, the integrity of the French character of the area was being maintained by the British crown. In 1774, General Gage annulled all the grants and purchases of land which had been made in Illinois in contravention of the Proclamation of 1763, a decision which adversely affected the two major trading companies of the area.
On May 7 1774, the Earl of Dartmouth introduced a bill in the House of Lords which became the Québec Act. The Québec Act which took effect on June 14 was of a major importance for Illinois, for it brought the territory out of the