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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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Chapter IV. — The Iroguois Adhere to the English.

To counteract this policy, the English found it necessary to call in the aid of the Iroquois cantons. The Indian is more gratified with a present of ten dollars' worth of merchandise, than if he had received twenty times the value in money, as a permanent annuity. Early partakers of the benefits resulting from Anglo-Saxon proximity of settlement and commerce, they became firm friends to all who belonged to that race. The warlike Mohawks were the most prominent tribe in the confederacy, at the time of the discovery of the Hudson. They found a very good market for their furs, which rendered them affluent in every comfort of Indian life; and they adhered to their early relations with a perfectly unabated and unchanging steadiness. After being furnished with guns, the Mohawks revisited Lake Champlain, where they encountered the renewed energies of Canada, and, in a short time, induced all the cantons to join them. Another great advantage accrued to them, at this period, in the employment of fire-arms against their enemies at the south and west. The introduction of gunpowder into America revolutionized the entire Indian mode of life. The expeditions became not only more lengthy, but were also characterized by greater frequency; and, in a short time, no tribe could withstand them. Ambition stimulated every canton, and, before the surrender of the province to the English, in 1664, the council fire, at Onondaga, burned still brighter and more fiercely. Unaided by this influence, New York, as well as the northern and central British colonies, could not have protected so wide a frontier without any extraneous aid. They frustrated the plan for establishing a mission at the old French fields, in Madison county, 261 as also at Onondaga, 261 in western New York. They likewise defeated the armies of Frontenac, and of Denonville.

An agency was also established in the Iroquois country, which, from little beginnings, at length systematically controlled this power for the protection and furtherance of the interests of the English colonies. This was the one which became so celebrated under the management of Sir William Johnson. Johnson emigrated to America in 1734, and, having undertaken the management of an estate in the Mohawk valley, for

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Sir Peter Warren, embarked in the fur trade, and learned the Indian language. He frequently accompanied the Iroquois delegates, who went to Albany to transact business with the government; and therein evinced so much tact, and such an intimate knowledge of the Indian dialects, that, in a few years, the superintendency of this department of government in the British colonies was committed to his care. The Iroquois had been constantly gaining in power during the previous century, and the authority which they now exercised over the tribes in the north, south, and west, enabled Johnson, through their means, to exert a controlling influence. He combined within himself the faculties of close observation, great prudence, judgment, decision, energy, and courage. By his judicious management of affairs and of a large private estate, he acquired a just appreciation of Indian character, and great popularity with the Iroquois. His Indian policy imitated, and even surpassed in efficiency, that of the French. He paid the utmost deference to their ancient ceremonial, not to say oriental, mode of transacting public business. He received their delegates and foreign ambassadors with great ceremony, listened to them patiently, and answered them carefully; made them liberal and judicious presents; and ordered every attention to be paid to their personal wants. No Indian who came to him, ever went away hungry, or in want, from his agency; and no one ever complained that he had not received an audience. The Indian is always greatly influenced by the respect with which he is received; no European can be more so. He has a high opinion of himself, of his position, and of his destiny; he does not know that he is a savage; he does not feel the want of our knowledge, our letters, our religion; he is a patient, courteous, dignified listener; he regards the features and expression of a man with great attention, and is a good judge of general character; he is prone to approbativeness, values approval, appreciates kindness, and is altogether reliable as a personal friend.

Such were the materials of the power which Johnson undertook to control. He regarded the proud, noble, but untutored Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca sachems, with their principle of cantonal representation, and confederate unity, as, in some measure, a reproduction of the Amphyctionic council. He sent formal messages to them, desiring their attendance, whenever occasion required it. This careful attention greatly pleased them, and, if it was ever delayed, they refused to obey it. Distance was immaterial to him, as he found it was nothing to them. Meeting together in council, they transmitted the message to the most distant places. Under the honored title of Mingoes, portions of the Iroquois stock resided in the Ohio valley, and served as diplomatic agents, to communicate intelligence. The most distant valleys of the west, and the remotest lakes of the north, were thus made accessible; and the relations of the Illinois, and of the tribes of Michilimackinac, Detroit, Niagara and Oswego, were as well understood at his nominal seat, on Tribes' Hill, in the Mohawk valley, as those of Genesee. Albany, and the Cahöatatea. The high rank which he held in the New York militia, caused him to be employed on some of the

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most important services, and he achieved several momentous victories in the war with the French. No one can peruse the history of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, or Virginia, nay, even of the States further south, from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the era of the Revolutionary War, without observing how intimately the Indian policy of these colonies was connected with the Iroquois supremacy, and how completely Sir William controlled it, through a well-established system of subordinates. Governors of States thought it no derogation from their dignity to meet the delegated Iroquois sachems in general council, and their sanction was deemed essential to all purchases of land, and questions of boundary, even to the utmost limits of Virginia and Kentucky.

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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