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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 XIV. — Fate of the Delawares who Adopted the Moravian Faith, and Emigrated West.

BEFORE the close of this year, it became evident to every one except the Indians, who neither understood nor studied cause and effect, that the chances of ultimate success preponderated in favor of the colonies; but, after the surrender of Cornwallis, this surmise became an absolute certainty. To every one but this infatuated race, it was apparent that the struggle had been maintained at the cost of national exertions, which even the British crown could not maintain; and the words of Lord Chatham were regarded in England as but little less than the words of inspiration.

While the negotiations preliminary to the formation of a treaty of peace were in progress, there existed a state of Indian excitement on the frontiers, which made it the duty of every settler to deem his log-cabin a castle, and constitute his wife and children the custodians of an armory. The Lowlands of Scotland were never more completely devastated by the raids of their fierce neighbors, the Celts, than were the unfortunate frontiers of Virginia by the tomahawk. 410 These details are, however, the appropriate theme of local history: our attention is required by another topic.

The Mohicans, and their relatives, the Delawares, were at an early period benefited by the benevolent labors of the Moravian Brethren. Unfortunately, as we have previously mentioned, this excellent society, even for twenty years before the conquest of Canada, had held the reputation of being politically identified with the French; and still more unfortunately for the peace of the Delawares, this preference was alleged to have been transferred to the British crown after the conquest. There does not appear to be a particle of reliable evidence of either the former or the latter preference; but the populace had formed this opinion while the Delawares lived east of the Alleghanies, and the impression became still stronger after they migrated to the Ohio valley. Although these Delaware converts resided permanently in towns located on the Muskingum, they were peremptorily ordered, by the Indians in the British interest, encouraged thereto by the local authorities, to abandon their habitations, and remove to

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Sandusky and Detroit; under the evident apprehension that these converts would imbibe American sentiments. It was very manifest that they neither engaged in war nor were ever encouraged thereto by their teachers; but expressly the contrary. 411 The Munsees, a Delaware tribe, however, took refuge on the River Thames, in Canada, and the so called "Christian Indians," pure Delawares, of the Moravian persuasion, did the same. This appears to have been the result of political necessity; and if originally at the solicitation, or through the counsel of men in authority, that motive soon ceased to have much effect. In 1735, the "Christian Indians" migrated through the Straits of Michilimackinac, to rejoin their parental tribe in the West. 412 Some of the Munsees had previously united with the Stockbridges at Green Bay, in Wisconsin, and others followed them. The majority of the Delawares in the West were enemies to the Americans; which made it the more easy to convey the impression that the Muskingum Delawares were also inimical.

But, however the question of political preference of the Moravian Delawares may be decided, it is certain that, in 1782, the common opinion among the people of western Virginia and Pennsylvania was, that they were strongly in the British interest. Nothing short of this could have justified — if anything could be alleged, even at that excited period, in palliation of that action — the expedition of Williamson against the Muskingum towns. It was to no purpose that the hardy forester was told that these Delawares were taught and professed the Christian doctrine of non-resistance, and peace toward all men. A majority of them had no faith in such a doctrine, and the rest could not realize the fact that an Indian, whose natural element was war, whose very nature was subterfuge, subtlety, and duplicity, could subscribe to the doctrines of peace and good-will, without danger of relapsing into his original condition at the sight of blood, or the sound of a rifle.

It happened that some hostile Indians from Sandusky made an incursion into the settlements on the Monongahela, committing a series of most shocking murders. Infuriated at these outrages, a body of 100 or 200 men, all mounted and equipped, set out from the Monongahela, under command of Colonel D. Williamson, in quest of the murderers. They directed their march to the settlements of Salem and Gnadenhutten, on the Muskingum. The vicinity of the latter place was reached after two days' march; and on the morning of the following day, the party divided into three sections, entering the town simultaneously at different points. They found the Indians laboring peaceably and unsuspiciously in the fields, gathering up their bundles preparatory to their return to Sandusky. A message from the commander at Pittsburg had apprized them of the march of Williamson's force, and warned them to be on their guard; but, conscious of their innocence, no alarm had been excited by this intelligence. Williamson

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approached the settlement with friendly professions, proposed to the Indians a plan of deliverance from their oppressors, the Wyandots, of Sandusky, and induced them to deliver up their arms, axes, and working implements, as well as to collect at a place of rendezvous, preparatory to a proposed march to Pittsburg. At this rendezvous they found themselves completely in the power of their enemies, who began to treat them roughly; but resistance or flight were now alike impossible. They were next accused of horse-stealing, and other acts of which they were entirely guiltless. It was then determined, in a council composed of Williamson's followers, to decide their fate. He paraded his men in line, and then put the question, "Whether they should be sent to Pittsburg, or shot," requesting those who were in favor of their removal to step in front. The majority condemned them to death: sixteen or eighteen decided in favor of mercy. The Delawares, whose fate had thus been summarily decided, knelt down, prayed, and sung a hymn, whilst a consultation was being held as to the mode of putting them to death. Not an imploring word was uttered, nor a tear shed. They submitted silently to their fate, and were successively struck down with a mallet. Ninety unarmed Indians were thus slain. Sixty-two of the number were adults, one of them a woman, and the remaining thirty-four children. The demoniacal troop then returned to their homes, giving plausible but false reasons for the atrocities committed, which were inserted in the newspapers. 413

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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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