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Indian villages, and instruct the natives in the doctrines of repentance and salvation, through the merits of the Saviour.
He could not have been received and replied to with more politeness, at the most refined court in Europe. The answer is so beautiful in its simple, yet dignified eloquence, that I take pleasure in transcribing it.
Brother, you have made a long journey over the seas to preach the Gospel to the white people and to the Indians. You did not know that we were here, and we knew nothing of you. This proceeds from above. Come therefore to us, both you and your brethren. We bid you welcome among us. Take this fathom of wampum, in confirmation of the truth of our words.."
The Moravians who had established themselves at Bethlehem, were indefatigable in their labour of love to Christianize the Indians. Neither the heats of summer, winter's storms, the dangers of the entangled forests, nor the toil in ascending precipitous mountains, could check the holy enthusiasm of the missionaries. Eight or ten made themselves masters of the Indian languages, with their kindred dialects, that they might be understood. Two bishops, Cammerhoff and De Watteville traversed the wilderness on foot, visited the various tribes and settlements along the Susquehanna, preaching the Saviour and exhorting to repentance; the former sacrificing his life, by exposure, to the behests of duty. So that in Wyoming, the earliest European accents that were heard, were accents of peace and love, breathing of grace, and redolent of mercy. It is now about an hundred years since these pious missionaries penetrated to this, then remote valley, and for thirty years afterwards, úncultivated wilder
There is pleasure in casting the eye of imagination back, and beholding the learned bishops, with the zeal and eloquence of Paul, at Athens, (How different the scene !) proclaiming to the children of Nature, “The unknown God, whom ye ignorantly worship. Him, declare I unto you."
A large number of converts, whom persecution had compelled to fly from their homes, removed from the eastern borders of New York to be near the Brethren, who had purchased land, and made an establishment for them, above the water-gap of the Lehigh, at the confluence of the Mahony and that stream, opposite to Fort Allen. The name given the place, was Gnadenhutten, or Huts of Mercy. Except the erection of the fort, this was the first settlement in a north direction, in Pennsylvania, above the Kittatinny Ridge or Blue
Mountain. The village was eighteen miles above Bethlehem, and on the warrior's path, about forty miles, southerly, through a most inhospitable wilderness, from Wyoming. For several years the settlement flourished. Agriculture opened to them the stores of plenty; while moral culture and religious hope imparted cheerfulness; and the whole seemed to be pervaded by the “sunshine of the breast." In 1752, the Huts of Mercy numbered five hundred souls. In the midst of these pleasing scenes of present peace and anticipated enjoyment, they were visited by a deputation of Nanticokes and other Indians, from Wyoming, consisting of more than a hundred persons, ostensibly on a mission of peace, with whom a solemn league of mutual friendship was entered into, after which their numerous, perhaps not very welcome visiters, returned to the valley. Doubtless, they were spies, sent by the Iroquois; their large number, with exquisite art, concealing the purpose of the journey. The way traveled, being the warrior's path, thirty or forty young savages, before ignorant of the route, might unsuspectedly attend such an embassy, apparently of friendship, and on the passage receive the instruction of the old braves, who must have led the party, preparatory to being sent themselves, on expeditions against the inhabitants below.
In consequence of this mission, (and probable message) about eighty of the Christian Indians, under Tedeuscung, a Delaware chief, already of some note, and destined to appear more conspicuously on another page, accompanied the party back to the Susquehanna, and established their lodges at Wyoming.
This step was taken as a preparatory measure to the old French war. The sequel is full of stirring and painful events.
Old French War-Influence upon Wyoming--Paxinos-Second Mission to Moravian
Christian Indians, at Gnadenhutten-Evasive answer-Terrible threat-Paxinos' Queen converted—Massacre at Fort Augusta—Melancholy massacre of Moravians–Cynning and success of Iroquois at Fort Allen-Kings Tadame and Tedeuscung-Grand Council at Easton-Murder of the Governor's messenger, Charles Thompson-Second Congress at Easton-Peace agreed upon.
With the movements of France and England, the two chief maritime nations of Europe, the destinies of this distant and secluded valley were, for many years, so intimately blended, that a rapid exposition of their policy, on this continent, may not be regarded as foreign to the purpose of these pages. In 1603, France granted a charter for a large portion of North America. Two years afterward, charters of extensive limits were granted by England. At a very early period, France commenced settlements upon the northeastern coast, on the waters of the St. Lawrence, and on the Mississippi ; while England began to plant colonies on the whole line of the Atlantic shore, from the St. Croix to St. Mary's. Sharp collisions arose. Each endeavoured to enlist the Indians in their respective quarrels. To the keen encounter of opposing interests, was added the exciting rivalry of towering ambition, national pride, hereditary hate, and personal revenge. Increasing knowledge of the dormant wealth, and extensive resources of America, gave tenfold impulse to all their passions.
While the centre was rapidly peopling under the auspices of England, France, actuated by a policy vast as her ambition, pursued with a vigour worthy of her power, was endeavouring to limit and overawe the British settlements by a cordon of forts, from Quebec, along the St. Lawrence, at Montreal, Oswego, Niagara, Detroit, Du Quesne, on the Ohio, and onward, embracing the most defensible points to the delta of the Mississippi. The design was grand—the execution
spirited. The savages, formerly in amity with the British, but now favorably disposed to the French, who had promised to restore the country taken from them by the English, were excited by the defeat of Braddock, in 1754, to enter with redoubled zeal into the war against the colonies. The hatchet was unburied the war knife was unsheathed, and the remorseless furies of Indian war were let loose along a thousand miles of defenceless frontier. The mighty genius of Pitt guided the destinies of England; but the rising glories of his administration had not yet dawned upon this continent, and the Iroquois, confident in their own prowess, and reposing implicit faith in the power, if not the promises of the French, pushed the war with unceasing vigilance along the whole line of their widely extended empire. Contracting our view to the limited range of our appropriate subject, we proceed with our narrative.
The spring following the first visit to the Christian Indians, at Gnadenhutten, (i. e. 1753,) to their great consternation, there came a second band from Wyoming, consisting of twenty-three persons, under the chief command of Paxinos, a Shawanese chief, or king, of some distinction, accompanied by three Iroquois ambassadors, who desired the whole settlement at Gnadenhutten to remove to Wyoming. Not only were they indisposed to yield obedience to the unreasonable mandate, but relying, probably, on the promises and power of the Brethren, and the contiguity of Fort Allen, for protection against their ancient conquerors and detested tyrants, several ventured to make replies, little calculated to conciliate their haughty masters.
“ What can the chiefs of the Six Nations give me in exchange for my soul?” said one. “They never consider how that will fare!" “ God who made and saved me, can protect me," replied another. “ I am not afraid of the wrath of man, for not one hair of
head can fall to the ground without his will !”—Another, with still greater confidence, declared to the ambassadors, “ If even one of them should lift up his hatchet against me, and say, “ Depart from the Lord and the Brethren, I would not do it.” Somewhat tart, if not taunting replies. These decisive, and especially the latter peremptory refusal, roused the chiefs to anger, when the terrible answer, before quoted, was given. “ The Great Head, i. e. the Council at Onondago, speak the truth and lie not. They rejoice that some believing Indians had moved to Wayomick; but now they lift up the remaining Mohickans and Delawares, and set them down also in Wayomick; for there a fire is kindled for them, and where they may
plant and think on God. But if they will not hear, the Great Head will come and clean their ears with a red hot poker."*
Paxinos, who delivered this message, then turned to the missionaries, and in a grave and solemn manner, earnestly demanded of them, says the Historian, “not to hinder their converts from removing to Wayomick."
The wife of Paxinos had accompanied him, and either through the Divine Power, or, what in this instance is more probable, the subtle policy of the Iroquois, and the command of her husband, was, or affected to become converted, was baptised, and admitted a member of the congregation. A Shawanese queen might be presumed to have great influence in inducing the Christian Indians to yield to the earnest wishes of the Six Nations, and return under their authority and protection !
The first blow struck by the savages, sufficiently near to be connected with Wyoming, was in the neighborhood of Shamokin, (afterwards Fort Augusta, now Sunbury.) The Moravians had a small mission there; and as it was ever a rule of action of that excellent people to do all the good in their power, they had sent out with the minister, a blacksmith with his tools. Thus religion and the useful arts, advanced hand in hand together. None of the Moravians were injured;t but fourteen white persons were murdered and scalped. The date is not precisely stated, but it was after Braddock's defeat, in 1754, and previous to November, 1755, probably in the summer of the last named year.
Hostilities commenced, the reader cannot doubt but the settlement at Gnadenhutten was marked for vengeance.
“ Late in the evening of the 24th November, 1755,” we copy from the Christian Library, “ while the missionaries were at supper, their attention was suddenly aroused by the continual barking of dogs, which was followed by the report of a gun. On opening the door of the mission house, they
* It is stated that this order did not originate with the Great Council, at Onondago, but with the Oneida tribe, and warlike Mohicans and Delawares. A total misconceptioni. The Mohicans and Delawarés were slaves. It is probable, that to the Oneidas was assigned the duty; for that nation, as we have seen, formerly had their head-quarters at Wyoming : and from policy, they may have made the Mohicans and Delawares, the agents to do their will. But nothing was done that had not the sanction of the confederacy.
+ Let it not be supposed the savages struck at random. The war party had, doubtless, their precise orders. The Moravians had probably conciliated the friendship of the great chief Shikellimus, the Vice Roy of the Iroquois, while resident of Shamokin. Indeed their settlement at that place had been made by his express desire. Learning the situation of the Brethren, Paxinos sent from Wyoming his two sons to conduct them in safety to Bethlehem.