Riel flees to the U.S.A.
Wolseley's troops arrived before Archibald, and although they were supposed to
restore order and keep the peace, a number of the soldiers wanted to seek out Riel and
avenge the death of Scott. Warned of their intentions, Riel, Lépine and William
O'Donoghue, an Irish American, had time to flee to sanctuary in the United States.
Riel went to the Métis settlement of St. Joseph, in Dakota Territory, to await
news from Red River. A letter arrived shortly thereafter from Bishop Taché which
suggested that he remain in hiding, for his life would be in danger if he returned. The
situation was serious; disputes between the Métis and Wolseley's men were growing in
Riel found it difficult to remain far away in hiding and on September 17, he
returned to attend a gathering of the Métis in St. Norbert. At this meeting, it was
resolved that a petition be sent to the President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant,
to ask him to intercede with the Queen for an investigation of their demand for amnesty.
O'Donoghue wanted annexation of the Settlement to the United States, but Riel opposed the
idea. However, O'Donoghue was selected to carry the petition to the President and it was
turned over to him. On the way, O'Donoghue inserted a request for annexation which did not
convince Grant and he rejected it. O'Donoghue then went to New York where he met with some
Irish Fenians who had already made forays into Canada. He managed to convince them to make
a raid into Manitoba. When news of this reached Manitoba, Lieutenant Governor Archibald
was very concerned. Would the Métis join in the raid?
At this moment Louis Riel intervened. Believing that the Métis' future lay with
Canada, not with the United States, he assured the Lieutenant Governor that the Métis
would not join the Fenians and he kept his word. For want of local support, the Fenian
attack died before it had begun. Grateful for the assistance that Riel had provided,
Archibald was prepared to leave him in peace. However, this feeling was not shared by all
and Archibald came to believe that peace would be restored more quickly if Riel left the
country for a while. Riel and Lépine were each offered the sum of $1,000. They
reluctantly accepted this amount, more as a result of threats on their lives than because
of the money. Riel and Lépine left Manitoba on February 23, 1872 and travelled to St.
Joseph bound for St. Paul, Minnesota.