History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Life and Times of
Sir William Johnson, Bart.,
by William L. Stone
Albany: J. Munsell, 78 State Street, 1865.
The opening year found Sir William Johnson actively espousing the cause of the Mohawks and German settlers at Canajoharie, in their land controversy with Mr. William Livingston. The lands in dispute were known as the "planting grounds of the Mohawks," and were included in the old Livingston or Canajoharie patent, obtained by; Philip Livingston, the father of William. This patent the Mohawks had long considered of no validity. It had originally been obtained by virtue of an old Indian deed, signed by five Indians of no influence; whereas in order to constitute it & valid, conveyance, it was essential that the sachems of the whole nation should affix their signatures in full council. The tract of land thus conveyed had been, moreover, artfully increased by a surveyor by the name of Collins, who, one moonlight night, in 1733, went to Canajoharie and ran a course that included the land now in dispute. 1 At the congress in Albany, in 1754, the
1 "This day appeared before me Sir William Johnson, Bart., one of his majesty's council for the province of New York, William Wormwood of Canajoharie, in the county of Albany, who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists, deposeth and sayeth that many years ago, Mr. Collins, surveyor, and Peter Waggoner came to the house of said Waggoner when the deponent there was, and then told the deponent that they had been up to survey the land at Canajoharie for Mr. Livingston, and that they had proceeded up the river during the night, which was moonlight, to a creek called, Onaradaga on the west shore ; that whilst David Schuyler and Peter Waggoner were asleep, the said Collins fixed his compass at the mouth of said;- creek and took a course up into the woods ; that before day next morning said Collins waked David Schuyler and Peter Waggoner, who were surprised to see the compass fixed ; that thereupon said Collins bid them make haste and embark in their canoe for fear the Indians should discover them as they would knock them on the head; that on embarking in a hurry, a bag with Waggoner's" name on it, and an axe was left behind, which Waggoner was desired to go fetch, but Collins prevented it, saying, that those who had got the land could easily afford to pay for them."-Extract from manuscript affidavit of Wm. Wormwood, sworn to before Sir William Johnson; also manuscript affidavit of David Schuyler taken before Sir William Johnson.
Mohawks, through Hendrik, complained of the injustice of this patent, which they heard had been recently taken out; and William Alexander, (Lord Sterling) and William Livingston appeared, on that occasion, so well convinced of the justice of the claim, that they offered on the spot to relinquish all right and title to the land. Many of the heirs of the original patentees, however, being minors, nothing definite was then arrived at. Meantime, the lands were settled by industrious Germans, who paid the Indians for their use an annual rent, either in corn or money. 2 Thus matters had remained for several years, until in the winter of 1762, the settlers were served with ejectments by the order of Mr. Livingston. Attorney General Kemp was employed by the governor and council on behalf of the Indians, and William Smith, jun., at the instance of the Baronet, was retained for the Germans.
While the ejectment suits were pending, the affair was
1 "You are to know that in the year 1754, Billy Alexander and Billy Livingston, did in the presence of the commissioners of the several governments assembled then at Albany, offer to give up their title or claim to the land now in dispute, rather than it should be productive of any dispute, or give the Indians uneasiness. I was present at the time, so was old Mr. Smith and Mr. John Chambers as counsellors. The reason that there was nothing more done in it there, was, that several of the heir & were minors." Manuscript letter; Sir William Johnson to Mr. Corey.
2 "As soon as the Indians discovered the affair [i. e. the moonlight survey by Collins] they publicly disavowed it, and that in such a manner as occasioned Mr. Livingston [Philip] to drop proceedings therein, perhaps to wait the dissolution of the Indians at that castle, for many years after, some of the first German settlers went to Mr. Livingston to know whether he would give them deeds, and divide (he same, whom he put off, Mrs. Livingston saying to him, he must not pretend to attempt doing anything therein so long as any of the Indians were alive. On the Indians finding that the lands were settling they applied to the settlers for rent, who accordingly - have ever since paid it to them in corn or otherwise, as they desire." Manuscript letter; Sir William Johnson to Wm. Smith, jr., 11th May 1763.
rendered still more complicated by the rascally conduct of one, George Klock-a German residing at Canajoharie- who owned a share in the patent, and acted as the agent of Mr. Livingston and the other claimants. The Mohawks having forwarded a statement of the fraudulent manner in which the lands had been obtained to the governor and his council, Klock invited several of the Canajoharies to his house, and having made them drunk, persuaded them to sign a declaration relinquishing their right to the lands in dispute, and acknowledging the legality of the original purchase. The declaration, obtained in this villainous manner, was thereupon sent to the governor, together with two new Indian deeds of the lands to Gelles Funda and Klock, obtained by the same base means.1 Upon the reception of the declaration and deeds, Governor Monckton, with the advice of his council, forwarded a copy of each to Sir William, with the request that he would, as soon as convenient, convene the sachems and Indians of the Canajoharie castle, and having explained to them the purport of the declaration, ascertain their true sentiments in the most explicit manner. In order, moreover, that the proposed meeting might be conducted in the most solemn and impartial manner, he was farther directed to call as many justices of the peace for the county of Albany, as might be deemed advisable, who, with him, might hear the explanations of the Indians. This being done, a copy of the proceedings of the meeting was to be sent forthwith to the council. In pursuance of this order, the Baronet, through the newspapers, appointed the tenth day of March for the meeting at the Canajoharie castle, at the same time setting forth its object.
1 It is by such low, villainous falsehoods and artifices that they have carried on the farce so far, and thereby imposed on the governor and council. By Heavens, were you and the people sensible of the villainy used in this dispute by the opposite party, from the highest to the lowest, you and they would be astonished beyond measure. In short I have not words nor knowledge of villainous ideas sufficient to expose their roguery."-Manuscript letter; Johnson to Banyar 25th Feb., 1763.
On the appointed day, all the sachems and chief men of the castle were in attendance, together with thirty-three of the principal women. The chief sachem of the Onondagas and a few of the Oneidas and Cayugas were also present, drawn hither by the interest which they all felt in the result of an affair that was to effect so materially their Mohawk brethren. Notwithstanding the streams were swollen and the roads nearly impassable, Sir William was also prompt, together with two of his deputies, Captain Claus and Lieutenant Guy Johnson, the latter of whom had, but a few days previously, been united in marriage to the Baronet's youngest daughter Mary. The meeting having been opened in the presence of the superintendent and eight justices, by the reading of the order of the council, the former arose, and after briefly stating to the Indians the object of calling them together, requested that they would, after hearing the declaration read, frankly state, whether or not it expressed the real sentiments of their castle; "and," continued he, "I wish you now to lay before me and his majesty's justices here assembled, the whole matter of complaint relative to the lands in dispute, that I may immediately transmit the same to his excellency the governor, who, you may rest assured, will, on a just presentation of the same, procure you all the justice which the case shall appear to deserve." As soon as he had finished, the declaration and the two Indian deeds were interpreted to the sachems, who, thereupon, withdrew to consider their reply.
In about two hours they returned. The reply of Cayenguiragoa, their speaker, is truly affecting. Adorned with no flowers of rhetoric, it presents in a simple and artless manner a summary of the wrongs and injustice, practiced upon them by the whites, aided by the demon fire-water-nor can any one, with the faintest spark of moral feeling, rise from its perusal without burning with indignation at the base means by which a noble race was brought to irretrievable ruin.
After stating that they had attentively considered, all that had been said to them, and that after the most diligent inquiry, they could not learn who were the authors of the declaration, sent to the council by Klock, the speaker continued:
"As I have already mentioned, in answer to you, we cannot find any one acquainted with these transactions, unless it be Cobus, whose mother declared she was in want of land as well as ourselves,, but upon the strictest inquiry, we find that liquor must have been the cause of the whole, and we now deliver you a bottle of liquor with which we were beguiled by George Klock."
"Brother: Liquor hath been always our ruin, for whenever any of our people go over to the house of George Klock, and we send for them from there, he fills them with more, and by that means detains them, let their presence be required on matters of ever so much importance. This liquor, hath, as I have said, been always our ruin, as none of our people would otherwise have so acted, neither was it likely that any of our people would have sold their lands twice, for if the land in question had been formerly sold, we should not have asked a second price for it."
At this point, John Duncan, who acted on this occasion as the attorney for Mr. Livingston and the other claimants, having asked if there was not some sachem present who knew of the original purchase, he replied-" I am very glad you have mentioned this, as it affords us an opportunity of laying open the affair. This is the cause" (offering another bottle) "which has produced it." Thereupon, Araghiadecka, an old sachem, whose name it was alleged was upon the original deed, arose and spoke as follows:
"Brother : for my part I only know by hearsay that I have signed it. I know nothing of any purchase, as at that time I was young and did not mind such matters. It is probable that I might have formerly signed it when in liquor, as 'tis said I have lately done so. I speak of the old affair, as I have not since signed it as reported. I have been often urged to sign it by George Klock, and offered sixty dollars for that purpose, which I always refused. This is all I have to say or know of the affair."
Cayenguiragoa then continued : "It goes very hard with us, and gives us great uneasiness, as none of the rest of the Germans have used us as George Klock, as you may see by this other bottle," (presenting a third). "In this, manner he has gone on since he was concerned in the land, and in this manner he has acted for a year or two, constantly enticing all our people who passed by, giving us these bottles to induce us to sign the papers. I have now done with the affair of the liquor which we have had from George Klock the governor, who says that he is greater than the governor of New York.
"Brother: We now shall make an end. Our case is very hard, and it would be very difficult to sum up all the endeavors which have been made use of to seduce us, and make us in liquor, for when one bottle was emptied, another was always filled, and would require a large vessel to contain all that has been given us. This same George Klock has, we find, given out that he has given us five hundred and sixty-five dollars. If this is so, it must have been seen on us. It is very strange what should have become of it. You may see we are all naked, and must have spent it in the taverns, which is not the case, and may be inquired into. Here we are now all assembled, and we beg that you will inquire what has become of that sum." Being asked whether he knew that they had ever received that sum, he answered: "It is very hard you won't credit me, as I have repeated to you that there was no other consideration given but rum." In answer to the question, who were the persons of their castle in whom was vested, the power to transact public business, he replied: "Those who are here are the chiefs for all such matters, being the sachems for the transaction of all matters of importance, and as such, are known to the whole of the Six Nations;" and on being farther asked, if the women were looked upon as having any right in the disposal of lands, he answered, that " they were the properest owners, being the persons who labored on their lands, and were therefore esteemed in that light."
"We have now, brother, done with this affair, and I have now to observe, that we have frequently requested you would endeavor to see us righted, and as the governor is a very good man, we must beg he will interpose and put a stop to such proceedings, by preventing our being seduced by Klock. If not, it may prove a means of making us drunk, and I am heartily glad that so many justices are now present to hear and bear testimony of what we have said. It is particularly hard on us also, as we have not that authority for preventing our people from such actions as you have, and we therefore beg you will put a stop to the selling of rum, which alone is in your power; for whilst they can come at liquor we can have no influence or authority over them."
"We are determined to hold fast by the covenant chain, but are also determined to do the same by our land. We love the covenant chain as we do our lives, and we do the same by our lands, which we are determined to die by rather than give up. You must not think I am alone, or that I speak for myself. I speak in the name of the whole, not only for the men, but 'for the women who are here present, and should there be any here present who disapprove of what I have said, let them speak their sentiments." At this point of the speech, all the women present unanimously corroborated what he had said, declaring that they did not choose to part with their lands and be reduced to make brooms for a living." "I have now no more to say but to request that you will be steadfast in observing the covenant, which shall be faithfully observed on our parts, as it has always been; for should Klock be permitted to turn us off our possessions, our fire must inevitably become extinguished."
As soon as Cayenguiragoa had finished, Mr. Duncan requested that the Indians might be informed that the land in question was not claimed through Klock, but from the governor's patent, and the old deed signed by their forefathers, and farther, that there was a living witness who saw the consideration paid. Upon this being interpreted to Cayenguiragoa, he said that if it was so, the witness ought to be produced, and then added:
"We should be very glad if those who are concerned in this land would give up their claim, as they must know the same was stolen, and privately surveyed in the night. I have observed to you already, that we heartily desire you will desist from all thought concerning the land, and stick to everything for the public good. I must say that it is very hard that children and unqualified persons should be introduced as persons signing that paper, since they could have no right so to do. It was reported by George Klock that we were in the French interest, and that we had taken his brother and killed his son; here is the man himself now present who knows whether it was so or not, and can prove the falsity thereof. By such evil reports and proceedings we are rendered very uneasy, and beg you will for the future pay no regard to any papers said to be signed by us, but that you will apply to ourselves, and thus learn the particulars thereof, except such as are done in a public meeting."
Mr. Duncan here endeavored to pacify the Indians, by telling them that nothing more was desired by the claimants than to arrange the affair amicably, and that he had now some proposals to make on behalf of himself and the rest. This attempt, however, to smooth over matters was promptly foiled by Cayenguiragoa, who peremptorily replied, that "they would attend to no farther proposals on paper, but desired that the whole might be transmitted to the governor." The Baronet, thereupon, dissolved the assemblage, by stating that the justices and himself had faithfully attended to all of their remarks, and that after they had been drawn up and signed, they should he carefully forwarded to the governor and council.1
To what extent Mr. Livingston was personally implicated in these fraudulent transactions does not appear. He certainly gave them his countenance, and to say the least, he erred greatly in allowing his name to be used in connection with a patent, which had been obtained by his father and others in such a surreptitious manner. Nor is it at all creditable to his character of integrity and love of fair dealing, that he should have retained, as his acknowledged agent, a man whose infamous dealings were well known.
The promise made to the Indians by Sir William was faithfully performed; and the result was, that Mr. Livingston and the other claimants, either through shame at the infamous practices of their agents being thus brought to light, or perhaps-may we hope-actuated by a sincere desire to repair the wrong done, executed a release to the Mohawks of their lands. George Klock alone refused to relinquish his share ; and although, during the life time of the Baronet, he remained comparatively quiet, yet after his decease he renewed his claim, but without success. I have dwelt more at length upon this transaction, as it furnishes one out of numerous instances of the land frauds practiced upon the Indians, and reveals, moreover, the implicit confidence which both the government and the Indians had in the integrity of the superintendent. Nor is it a slight proof of the latter's influence, that he could thus combat and successfully baffle the power of one of the most influential families in the province of New York.
On the Baronet's return to Johnson Hall-whither he had now removed-he stopped a day or two at Fort Johnson, his late residence, to adjust a matter of difference between the Mohawks of the lower castle, and a deputation
1 Manuscript "Proceedings at a meeting held at Canajoharie with the Indians, March 10th, 1763, before Sir Wm. Johnson, Bart., and several justices of the peace for the county of Albany."
from Schenectady, in relation to the Schenectady Flats; the former alleging that the Flats had never been sold by their ancestors to the whites, but had been simply lent as a pasture ground for cattle. In answer to this allegation, the deputies produced an Indian deed for the land in question, dated in 1679, and also the patent granted in 1684 by Governor Dongan, together with several receipts for the consideration. The proofs thus adduced, were considered by Sir William as entirely satisfactory, and he gave his decision accordingly. The Mohawks had come to the meeting with the most bitter feelings, but such was their confidence in the Baronet, that upon hearing the decision, they declared themselves perfectly satisfied, for, said they, "Sir William Johnson never yet deceived us."
While this meeting was holding, Colonel Eliphalet Dyer and Mr. Woodbridge of Stockbridge, arrived at Fort Johnson on the twenty-third of March. The object of their visit was to ascertain whether the Six Nations were coming down to a meeting, which some Connecticut people had proposed to hold at Albany, on the twenty-second, of March, for the purpose of persuading them to part with their Susquehanna lands. These people were now in Albany, and had brought with them to aid their negotiations three or four hundred pounds in money, besides three barrels of pork! This was the consideration, they proposed to give, for the rich lands of the beautiful Wyoming valley! The invitation to this meeting had been sent to the Six Nations the last autumn, but the Indian, to whom it had been given, well knowing its object, had never presented it to those for whom it was designed, and thus the matter had remained. On being informed of this fact, the two gentlemen grew quite warm, and insisted on their title to the Wyoming lands by virtue of the Connecticut claim extending to the west seas. Sir William having replied that he was confident the Six Nations would never allow a settlement upon their war path and best hunting grounds, they, in the most positive terms, declared that the Susquehanna company had been a great while concerned in the affair, and had been at a great deal expense, and that they were therefore determined to settle immediately on the land more than one thousand families-a number they should judge sufficient to defend their claims against any opposition. By way, however, of an inducement for Sir William to interpose in their behalf, they offered to receive him as an equal partner in the land, and proposed to send up to him the money and pork, that he might call the Confederacy together and persuade them to agree to the purchase. "All of which," nobly says the Baronet in his private diary, "I refused with the slight it deserved, and gave them my opinion of the whole affair, and also told them the unhappy consequences which would in all probability follow, should they (as they often hinted) force a settlement in those parts. After many fruitless efforts to prevail on me to join and assist them, they returned to Albany."
The Mohawks, who had not yet returned to their homes, having ascertained the cause of the visit, expressed the utmost uneasiness; giving it as their opinion, that if the New Englanders persisted in their purpose, it would bring on a general disturbance throughout the whole Confederacy. They therefore before separating, held a private council, the result of which was a request to the Baronet, that he would transmit their sentiments on the affair to the governor of Connecticut, accompanied with a belt of wampum.1
At length, justly alarmed at the pertinacity with which the Connecticut people, in defiance of their wishes, continued to send settlers into the valley of Wyoming, the Confederacy sent in May a deputation to the governor of Connecticut, to protest in person against the encroachments of his people. The deputation carried a letter from
1 Manuscript letter ; Sir William Johnson to Sir Jeffrey Amherst, 30th March 1763.
the Baronet, recommending it to the consideration of the governor, and was, moreover, accompanied by Guy Johnson, who was sent by the superintendent to give the mission additional character. The council, which continued two days, was held at Hartford in the presence of the governor and the general assembly of the colony. The Six Nations were represented by five sachems, two from the Onondagas and Cayugas each, and one from the Mohawks. They were received kindly by Governor Fitch, and having been each in turn taken by the hand and welcomed by him in the name of the government, Sagayenguaraghta, the chief sachem of the Onondagas, arose and delivered his message in the name of the Six Nations.
The speech of the sachem was mild and conciliatory, yet, at the same time, it breathed a calm and firm determination to maintain their rights even at the peril of life itself. Having presented a belt to clear the eyes of the governor and the assembly, the orator drew a short sketch of the history of their Confederacy, their first acquaintance with the whites, and the origin of the covenant chain. At the very first interview they had liked the English, and had given them land on which to settle. During this time the whites had become numerous and prosperous, for which they heartily rejoiced. But notwithstanding all this, they had heard something the past winter, that had made them sad, viz.: that three hundred Connecticut families were about to settle upon their lands, with the intention of erecting dwellings and forts. Upon hearing this extraordinary piece of intelligence, their sachems had resolved to acquaint the governor of Connecticut with the proceedings of his people, and for that purpose they were now here. The speaker then alluded to the deed that Lydius had obtained from a few Indians of no consequence in the Confederacy (very much, by the way, after the manner of Klock's purchase), and denied its validity. They had, it is true, heretofore given away land to the English, but of the sale of the Susquehanna lands, the Six Nations, knew nothing. And now brothers," continued Sagayenguaraghta, "seriously take it into your consideration, and think how you would like it, to have your lands taken from you in an unfair and injurious manner. You are a praying people, better acquainted with books and learning than we, and must needs know better what is right, than to think it well to have your lands, as we may say, Stolen from you. Surely you could not like it, to be treated in such a manner,-to have your land taken from you that you depended upon for your support.
"Brothers: As I have told you before, we have been sent here by our chiefs to let you know that we have heard about your design of encroaching upon our lands, and we now deliver you this belt to show the minds of the Confederate nations, that they are resolved to keep the lands for themselves and their children to the latest posterity. If, however, you still proceed to encroach upon our lands, we shall not be easy but will return home to our places, and apply ourselves to the king, our father, to obtain justice, and I myself will go. And now I have said all I have to say."
In his answer, two days after, Governor Fitch; on behalf of his government, disclaimed any intention of settling the Susquehanna lands, or doing anything, in fact, calculated to infringe upon their rights in the slightest degree. He had, indeed, been informed, that a number of individuals both from New England and New York, contemplated settling at Wyoming, but he had strongly remonstrated against any such attempt. Lately, moreover, he had received express orders from the king, commanding him to use every effort to prevent those people from settling the valley, until the matter could be laid before the crown. They might rest assured, therefore, that their rights would be carefully guarded, more especially also, as the members of the Susquehanna company had recently met and determined to pursue the project no farther until the king's pleasure was known. In reply, the delegation expressed themselves pleased at this information, and declared, that if they ever should make up their minds to part with the lands, his people should, if they desired it, have the precedence of all other purchasers. "We are to receive no presents on this occasion, but as to your offer to discharge our expenses while in this town, we gratefully accept and acknowledge the same, and heartily bid you farewell."1
The exertions of Governor Fitch, aided by the order from the king, were so far successful, that for the next six years, the Susquehanna company forbore any farther operations in the beautiful valley of Wyoming. In the mean time, however, the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania having taken advantage of a grand Indian council, held at Fort Stanwix in the autumn of 1768, to obtain a deed of the disputed territory from some of the chiefs, the Susquehanna company called a meeting and resolved to resume the settlement. Under its auspices forty pioneers were thrown into the valley in February, 1768, and from that time, in defiance of right and justice, settlers continued to pour in until in the horrid massacre of Wyoming, they suffered a fearful, though in a measure self-inflicted punishment for their temerity.2
Although preliminary articles of peace between Great Britain, France, Spain and Portugal, had been signed at Fontainebleau on the third of November, 1762, yet it was not until the tenth of February, that a definite treaty was formally ratified at Paris. The experience which England.
1 Manuscript minutes of a conference held by the governor of Connecticut at Hartford, with the Six Nations' deputies. May 28th 1763.-Manuscript letter; Governor Fitch to Sir William Johnson, 30th May, 1763.
2 "I need not observe to your excellency the dangerous consequences which must inevitably attend the settlement of these people [in Wyoming], having been formerly honored with your sentiments therein. If they only were to suffer, 1 think their rashness and defiance of all public authority deserves it, but I am apprehensive it will not stop there."-Manuscript letter; Sir William Johnson to Sir Jeffrey Amherst, 30th March, 1763.
had acquired during the last fourteen years, though obtained at such an immense cost of blood and treasure, had not been lost; and the position that she now assumed, was far different from the one taken by her at the treaty of Aix La Chapelle. She now saw that there could be no security to her American frontiers, nor guaranty for a permanent peace, so long as Canada remained under French dominion; and though there were statesmen, Lord Hardwicke among them, in favor of retaining the West Indies and abandoning Canada, yet the policy, in which the great commoner had carried on the war, prevailed, and the retention of Canada was insisted upon as the basis of all negotiation. The result of the treaty, therefore, was, that Nova Scotia, Canada, the Isle of Cape Breton, and all the islands in the St. Lawrence, were ceded to the British crown, and it was, moreover,- expressly agreed that the boundary between the French and English possessions should be forever set at rest by a "line drawn along the middle of the Mississippi, from its source, as far as the river Iberville, and from thence by a line drawn along the middle of this river, and of the lakes Maurepas and Ponchartrain to the sea"-all of the French possessions on the left side of that river being ceded to England, excepting the Isle of Orleans and Louisiana. In return, England relinquished Martinico in the West Indies, Belleisle on the coast of France, and Guadaloupe, reserving only the islands of Grenada and the Grenadines. Spain received back the Havana, on condition of her ceding Florida to the crown of Great Britain; the latter agreeing to destroy all the fortifications that her subjects had erected in the bay of Honduras, and in other territory still under Spanish dominion.
Thus had the inordinate desire to appropriate territory to which there was not the least claim, led to the irretrievable ruin of French power in America; and as, in 1749, England came from the convocation at Aix La Chapelle, the jeer of the nations, so France rose from the signing of the treaty of Paris in the eyes of every Frenchman to whom the honor of his country was dear, humbled and abased.
But while the colonists were yet rejoicing in the news of peace, dark clouds were slowly covering the western sky. The causes which had produced the inimical feelings of the western tribes, as well as their partially matured plot for the destruction of the English in the spring of 1761, have already been related at length in a previous chapter. The general treaty which Sir William Johnson had made with them in the summer of 1761, at Detroit, had mollified them for a time; and it is probable that had the tribes been left to themselves, they would, with the exception of an occasional trivial outbreak, have sullenly submitted to their new neighbors. But there was one, savage, rude and untutored though he was, whose sagacious mind saw in the advance of the English, the gradual extinction of his people. That man was Pontiac, the king of the Ottawa Confederacy. 1 To avert the calamity he so much dreaded, he conceived in the summer of 1762, the design, like another Philip, of driving the English from the continent. Forming a league with the great interior tribes, chiefly of the Algonquin stock, and summoning their forces in unison upon the war path, he attacked in the spring the garrisons upon the frontiers and the lakes, investing many of them almost simultaneously. The ports of Le Boeuf, Venango, Presque Isle, Sandusky, St. Joseph, Miami and Michillimackinac, fell into the hands of the savages, some of them by strategy, and others by capitulation. The Indians, however, with true Punic faith, regarded not the terms which they had granted, and the scalps of those who surrendered long adorned the interior
1 "The Ottawa Confederacy is composed of many western nations, of which the chief are the Wyandots or Hurons, Pottawatamies, Chipewas and Ottawas. The tribes of the Confederacy reside chiefly on the peninsula between lakes Michigan and Huron, and the country north of lakes Erie and Ontario to the Ottawa River."-Manuscript statement of Sir William Johnson.
of many a wigwam. Detroit, Niagara, and Fort Pitt alone defied the enemy.
It was now more important than ever that the friendship of the Six Nations should be retained, as upon their fidelity depended not only the safety of the frontiers, but the communication to Oswego and the more western posts, Niagara; and Detroit. Upon the first intelligence of the general uprising of the tribes of the west, Sir William Johnson, doubting the fidelity of the Confederacy, but especially the Senecas, sent messengers to all their castles inviting them to a general council at the German Flats. This distrust of the Senecas was well founded; not only were they at this time the most numerous and powerful of the Six Nations-numbering ten hundred and fifty fighting men 1- but living on the outskirts of the Confederacy, they were the least subject to the authority of the Baronet. From their proximity, moreover, to Niagara, the French had been able, for many years, to keep missionaries constantly among them; and, by the lavish use of presents, had alienated them in a great measure from the English. Indeed, it would have been very strange had it been otherwise. The return, however, of the messengers in a few days, dispelled all apprehensions of the fidelity of the larger portion of the Confederacy. The Senecas, it is true, now openly and boldly espoused the cause of Pontiac, thus verifying the
1 The number of fighting men at this time, which the Six Nations could bring into the field, according to the estimate made by Sir William Johnson in 1763, was as follows:
Mohawks...............................160 Onondagas............................. 160
Oneidas................................250 Cayugas.................................. 200
Tuscaroras............................140 Senecas................................ 1050
Including the Oswegatchies-emigrants chiefly from the Onondagas and settled at Osewgatchie-of which there were 80-2030.
For an elaborate statement of the Indian nations included under the Six Nations and Ottawa Confederacies, as well as the location of all their different towns and villages, see appendix vi, of this volume. This is a very carefully prepared document, made by Sir William Johnson in 1763, and to the student will well repay its perusal.
fears of the superintendent, and proving the insincerity of their professions two years previously at Niagara, but the other nations remained firm. The Onondagas, to whom the Senecas had sent three war belts of wampum inviting them to take up the hatchet against the English, indignantly rejected, on behalf of themselves and the Confederacy, the proposal, declaring their resolution to live and die by the English. So also said the Mohawks.1
These friendly assurances were renewed at the council held at the German Flats in the middle of July. Large delegations from all the nations, excepting the Senecas were present; and although they had not quite determined to engage actively against Pontiac, yet the Baronet found no difficulty in persuading them not only to remain neutral, but to allow the passage of troops through their territory. The importance of the neutrality thus obtained, cannot, perhaps, be too highly estimated. Had the Six Nations gone over to the side of Pontiac, all the horrors that the French war had witnessed on the borders of New England would have been renewed with even greater ferocity in the province of New York; while with the convoys cut off, and the reinforcements waylaid and killed in passing from Albany to Oswego, Detroit must inevitably have succumbed to the savages.2"
While the Baronet was thus busily engaged at the German
1 Mr. Bancroft is mistaken in intimating (vol. v, p.111) that the Iroquois Confederacy joined the Delawares and other tribes in inciting the northwestern nations to revolt. None of the Confederacy, as an individual nation, did so, except the Senecas, and not all even of those-Sir William Johnson to the lords of trade, 1st July, 1763. Sir William Johnson to Sir Jeffrey Amherst, 14th Sept., 1763. Sir William Johnson to the same, 11th July, 1763. Sir William Johnson to the lords of trade 20th January, 1764. Also manuscript correspondence of Sir William Johnson.
2 The Indians of five out of the six nations, who, from the commencement of the present Indian war have shown great zeal and attachment toward the English, have thereby preserved these frontiers and the important communication to Ontario, both of which must have inevitably fallen but for their fidelity."-Manuscript letter; Johnson to General Burton, Feb.11, 1764.
Flats, his son-in-law, Captain Claus, was, by his direction, holding a general congress at the Sault St. Louis with the St. Francis, Swegatchie, Caughnawagas and other prominent Canadian tribes. The result of the deputy's negotiations was, that those Indians dispatched two messengers to their western brethren-one going through Lake Ontario to Detroit, and the other by the Ottawa river to Michillimackinac-advising them to lay down the hatchet, and declaring at the same time, that if their counsel was disregarded, they themselves would take up the hatchet in favor of their English brethren.1
But notwithstanding the good feeling manifested by the Confederates and the nations of Canada, Sir William did not relax his precautions. The militia were promptly ordered out, and sent in companies of fifty to different; posts along the frontier ; while Indian scouts roamed the forests from Crown Point to Oswego in search of the prowling foe. While thus engaged, rumors came that his personal safety was in danger-that the followers of Pontiac, enraged at a man whose influence had prevented the. Six Nations from joining them, had sworn to take his life. Upon hearing this report, the faithful Mohawks waited in a body upon the Baronet, and offered to join him to a man against any nation who should attempt to carry this threat into execution.2 But though flattered at this proof of their affection, he did not deem it prudent to rely entirely on their good offices for protection. He accordingly armed his tenantry, and surrounded Johnson Hall with a strong stockade flanked by two stone towers, receiving a guard of twelve regulars and one sergeant from Fort Stanwix for its defence.3 The result of these measures was,
1 Johnson to Amherst, 25th Aug., 1763.
2 Sir William Johnson to Sir Jeffrey Amherst, 30th July, 1768.
3. These two towers are still to be seen (1864) on each side of Johnson Hall. One of these towers was defended by a small brass cannon that Sir Peter Warren had captured at the siege of Louisburg, and sent to his nephew as a present and trophy.
that while the frontiers of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland suffered severely during the whole war from the ravages of the foe, the province of New York, with the exception of some slight incursions upon the borders of Orange and Ulster counties, was left comparatively unmolested.
to James F. Morrison for loaning his book for the purpose of putting it on
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