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Susquehanna Company's Indian Purchase-Runs the gauntlet-Keenly assailed —Spiritedly
defended— Proceedings in Council-Peter Hendrick's Speech-Letters from Gov. Morris and Richard Peters, Esq.-Purchase of Pennsylvania at Fort Stanwix--Fierce assaults on that Deed, by Connecticut claimants-Close of Documentary testimony.
The Susquehanna Company's purchase, and their Indian Deed, has now to run the gauntlet through a long array of intelligent, well disciplined, and eager controversialists.
My best efforts have been directed to simplify and arrange. Thus a general outline of the Indian history has been given by itself, down to 1770, embracing events in which the whites were concerned, so far only as seemed indispensable.
Then we have set forth a clear general view of the Pennsylvania and Connecticut claims.
Thirdly, We have taken up, in detail, the Connecticut Claim. First, by Charter, and considered the objections thereto. Keeping separate the consideration of the title by purchase of the Indians, we now proceed to that interesting topic.
In our opening, we have stated that the Susquehanna Company claim to have purchased of eighteen chief sachems, representing the Six Nations, in open treaty, at the colonial Congress, held at Albany, in July, 1753, the disputed territory on the Susquehanna.
The purchase awakened the greatest alarm in the Proprietary Government, and steps were immediately taken to counteract the effects of a measure so pernicious, if not fatal, to their interests. Some facts of unquestionable authenticity, are, at this time, wholly inexplicable. The Susquehanna Company advanced to their object, not in secret, but openly avowing their purpose. Indeed, their being eight hundred original proprietors, each of whom must be taxed to raise the requisite funds, all notions of secrecy, even, if ever thought politic, must have been deemed impossible. The letter of Governor
Hamilton, sent by Armstrong, to Gov. Wolcott, previously quoted, shows that the Government of Pennsylvania was fully apprised of the purpose of the Connecticut people. Why then was not the Treaty of Albany prevented ? If done in opposition to the wishes of the Six Nations, there assembled in full council, why did not those nations, on the remonstrance of the respectable Pennsylvania Delegation, disavow the Deed, and inflict condign punishment on those Indians, who had presumed to speak and act in the name of the whole Confederacy, and to dispose of one hundred and twenty miles, by seventy, of the territory, embracing nearly five millions of acres ?
In truth the Delegates from Pennsylvania were neither faithless nor idle. The utmost efforts were made to prevent the sale to the Susquehanna Company, and to purchase the lands for the Proprietary Government. In their report, made the 6th of August, after their return to Philadelphia, is the following sentence :—“ The Commissioners of Pennsylvania, having held a private treaty with the Six Nations, whilst at Albany, for the purchase of lands," etc. Their Report was read, and ordered to be entered on the minutes. Efforts, it appears, were made July 4th and 5th, to induce the chiefs to sell them the Wyoming lands, to which they steadily refused to accede.
There were two chiefs of the Mohawks by the Dutch name of Hendrick; one of whom signed the Susquehanna Deed; the other, Peter Hendrick, an eloquent sachem, and warrior of great note, being in the Proprietary interest, made the following reply to the urgent application of the Commissioners ;—“We have heard, since we came here that our brother Onas, (Sir Wm. Penn having received that name on first landing, it meaning, in the Indian language, a quill or pen,) and our brothers of New England, have had some dispute about the lands of Susquehanna, a dispute of the same kind as that of the Governor of Canada and Assaragoah; but we desire you would not differ with one another about it, for neither shall have it. We will not part with it to either of you—we will reserve it for our western Indians to live on.”
From this declaration, placed on record, opposing advocates draw different conclusions. On behalf of the Proprietaries, it is claimed as evidence that the head chiefs of the Six Nations refused to sell, and could not, therefore, have concurred in Lydius's purchase.
On the Connecticut side, it is said: “This was not in open Council, but in secret Treaty. Peter Hendrick had been won over to Pennsylvania's interest, but went alone. It does not appear that any other chief concurred with him. The declaration that they would
keep Wyoming for their western Indians, a matter too improbable to be worth a moments consideration, showing that Hendrick meant nothing, or more probably did not know what he meant.
But at those secret conferences, the Commissioners made a purchase of lands, between the Blue Mountains, and the Forks of the Susquehanna, (at Fort Augusta, Sunbury,) of course below the tract sold to the Connecticut people.
“Behold,” says Avery, “ This purchase made in the dark, is unquestioned, and unquestionable--good beyond doubt-fair beyond all controversy! while the openly obtained Deed of the Susquehanna Company, is a nullity, forsooth !"
Sir William Johnson, principal Agent of the king, for Indian affairs, lent the whole weight of his influence to render nugatory the Susquehanna Company's Deed. A letter from the Governor of Pennsylvania, dated Nov. 15th, 1754, requested him “ to induce the Indians, if possible, to deny the regularity of the contract,” and to this end, by all means, " to win over, effectually, Peter Hendrick to his interest, and prevail on him to visit Philadelphia.” Gov. Morris wrote, himself, to Hendrick. The letter is too important to be omitted.
"Some matters of great moment to this Government, as well as to the Indians of the Six Nations, having lately fallen out, which makes it necessary for me to have a private conference with you, before I can proceed to give public notice to them of my arrival here ; and as you was so good as to promise to the Commissioners, when at Albany, that you would, at the request of Goverment, come at any time to Philadelphia and give your sentiments on any thing that might be proposed for the public service, I now earnestly desire that would favour us with a visit, in order to consult on some affairs, in which the safety of the Indians, and His Majesty's colonies are very much concerned, that cannot be done by message, but must first be communicated to you in personal conference. If you should incline to take with you one or two of your best friends, it will be the more agreeable. Mr. Daniel Clause is well acquainted with the nearest and best roads to this city, and he has my directions to accompany you, furnish the necessaries, and make every thing as agreeable to you as possible.”
“Behold !” says the Connecticut Advocate; “A single chief is invited to Philadelphia-Heaven and earth are to moved! The aid of Sir Wm. Johnson is invoked! Hendrick is requested to bring one or two of his best friends ; not more !—Daniel Clause will furnish the necessaries ! He will make every thing as agreeable as possible !"
Sir Wm. Johnson in his reply to the Governor, says "I have been honored with yours of the 15th ultimo, by Mr. Daniel Clause, whom I immediately sent to call Hendrick to my house. Upon his arrival, I delivered and interpreted your Honour's letter, or instructions to him, and urged his waiting on you immediately, which when he agreed to, I spoke to him concerning the affair as far as I judged necessary; and I flatter myself it will have a good effect, he having faithfully promised me to exert himself, and use his utmost endeavours for the interest of the Proprietaries against the Connecticut attempt. After my expatiating some time on the injustice of their proceedings, more especially so, after what had passed at Albany, last June, Hendrick then, with some warmth, disapproved of them, as well as the weakness of those of his brethren who were seduced by Lydius, and promised to do all he could to make them revoke or retract what they had so shamefully done."
"Mark!” say the Connecticut advocates, “the means used, and the influences brought to bear, to destroy the effect of a miscalled deed, clandestinely obtained of a few drunken Indians !"
Measures being adopted in Connecticut, to commence a settlement at Wyoming, Mr. John Armstrong was again sent as an agent to that colony to gather all the information in his power. also the bearer of a letter from Governor Morris to the Governor of Connecticut, in which the former again refers to the deed from the Six Nations to William Penn, dated October 11, 1736, and to the engagement then made by the Indians to sell all the lands in Pennsylvania to William Penn, and to no one else; after which he proceeds to say :
“ You will give me leave further to observe to you, that the Six Nations at the late Congress at Albany, in open council mentioned an application then made to them by agents from Connecticut for the purchase of some of the Susquehanna lands, and that they had absolutely refused to give any ear to such proposal, telling the several governments then present by their commissioners, that they were determined the lands at a place called Wyomink on the Susquehanna, should not be settled, but reserved for a place of retreat." He further observes: “ Notwithstanding which, I am informed that Mr. John Lydius, who is known to be a Roman Catholic, and in the French interest, has been since employed by some people of your province, to purchase from the Indians some lands within this government: that he has in a clandestine manner, by every unfair means, prevailed on some few Indians to whom he secretly applied,
to sign a deed for a considerable part of the lands of this province, including those at Wyomink. And as we stand engaged to the Six Nations by treaty, neither to settle the lands at Wyomink, or suffer them to be settled, this government thought it proper (among other things) to inform the Indians that those people were not authorized or even countenanced by this government, and their attempts were disavowed by the government of Connecticut, and were to be looked upon as a lawless set of people, for whose conduct no government is accountable.”
On the return of Mr. Armstrong, he communicated the information obtained, and among other things curious, and worthy to be known, which we have found no where else so fully stated— That “there were formerly five hundred subscribers to the Susquehanna Com. pany at seven dollars each, to which are now added three hundred at nine dollars each.” The aggregate would be 6200 dollars. The consideration in the Indian deed was stated to be two thousand pounds, New York currency-or five thousand dollars; which, from this exhibition of the funds of the company, seems probablemleaving twelve hundred dollars for contingent expenses.
Letters from Conrad Weiser, a celebrated Indian interpreter, much employed by the Proprietaries, written to the Governor, dated the 16th, and 27th October, 1754, and entered by order of council on the records, are too important to be passed over without notice. The following are extracts :
“ As to the Connecticut affair, I am clear of opinion, that, by order of the Governor, you should write to Hendrick, putting him in mind of his promise he made to the commissioners of this province in Albany, when he said he would come down to us upon any occasion, to advise with the Governor, as in the presence of the Most High. That the Governor wants to see him in this critical time about matters of moment. Daniel Clause might come with him. He knows the way by land. If Hendrick refuses to come, he may be suspected to have a hand in it; and we must then act by Shickalamy and Jonathan, and as secret as possible, otherwise Lydius, and that wicked priest at Canojoharry, will defeat our designs. I would advise in the mean time, to have belts of wampum provided, and two or three large belts all black. You will want a couple to send to the south before long, and one must be made use of to demolish Lydius's proceedings. Mr. Clause must be ordered to keep every thing relating to this affair as a secret, and to search very diligently whether Henry had any hand in signing the deed to the Con