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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 II. — Discovery of the Hudson River. Manhattans, Mohicans, and Mohawks.

THE colonization of New York followed soon after the discovery of the Cohahatea, or Hudson river. While Virginia, with manly efforts, was strengthening the foundations of her colony, among the powerful and hostile Powhatanic tribes of the Algonquin stock, another settlement of whites sprang into existence among the more northerly sea-coast families. Only two years subsequent to the founding of Jamestown, Hendrick Hudson entered the bay of New York, which was first discovered by Verrazani, in 1524, although the large river, of which it is the recipient, still continued unexplored. Hudson appears to have crossed the bar, now called Sandy Hook, on the third day of September, 1609. He remained in the bay several days, making surveys, and trafficking with the Indians. From the notes of his surveys, he appears to have kept close along the southern parts of the bay, the natives of which appeared to be friendly. These shores were occupied by the Navisinks, Sanhikins, and other bands of the Mississa totem, of the Lenno Lenapi Algonquin family. The northern shores of the bay, and Manhattan Island, were occupied by the Mohicans, or Wolf totem, of the same subgenus, to use a phrase of natural history, of the original stock. The Metoacs of Long Island were of the same type. Between these two totemic types, there existed either smothered hostility or open war. They kept Hudson in a state of perpetual perplexity and suspicion; for, regarding all red men with equal mistrust, he was ever on his guard against treachery. Of all the bands, however, he found that of Hell Gate, or the Manhattans, to be the fiercest. On the third day after sailing up the bay, he sent out a boat in charge of his mate, Colman, to examine the East river. An open sea was found beyond. While returning to the vessel, the Manhattans attacked the exploring party, and killed the mate, who received an arrow in his throat. These Indians possessed implements of copper, and earthen cooking utensils, the art of making which was, at this period, common to all the coast tribes; but the use of the brass kettle having been introduced among them by Europeans, they very soon ceased to manufacture earthenware. They offered Hudson green tobacco, as the most valuable present, and had an abundance of the zea maize, which he called Indian wheat. They also brought him oysters, beans, and

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some dried fruits. These Indians dressed in deer skin robes, and possessed mantles made of feathers, and also of furs. There is no evidence to prove that they did not live in a state of anarchy — no government existing but petty independent chieftainships, the curse of all savage and barbarous tribes. On the afternoon of the 7th of September, Hudson began to ascend the river, but progressed only two leagues the first day, sailing with extreme caution during the day, sounding frequently, and casting anchor at night. Twelve days elapsed before he reached a point opposite to, or above, the existing city of Hudson. [82] The general features of the country in that part of the valley are mentioned by him. [83] Having arrived, on the 22d, at a place where the soundings denoted shoal water, Hudson dispatched his boat to make further explorations. It returned the following night at 10 o'clock, having only progressed eight or nine leagues, and the crew reported finding but seven feet seven inches soundings, [84] which would seem to indicate that they had reached the present site of Albany. The Indians, as high as they had proceeded, were, by the names, apparently, of the Algonquin family. If the explorers really ascended in their boat as far as the present position of Albany, they entered the country of the Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois nation, whose summer residence was on the island. The tribes maintained a hostile attitude until Hudson had passed the Highlands; but those he subsequently encountered evinced great friendliness, as well as mildness of manners; hence they are called by him
"a loveing people." The Indians visited the strangers on board their ship, and several excursions were made by the crew on the shore; on one occasion, two venerable chiefs, accompanied by their sons and daughters, were entertained by Hudson in his cabin. These interchanges of civility characterize this part of the voyage, and furnish striking evidence of the beneficial effects of civility and comity of manners. On the 20th of the month, while the ship lay at anchor at one of the highest points attained, Hudson tried the experiment of giving his aboriginal guests a taste of alcoholic drinks. [85] The description of this event may be entertaining for its quaintness: "Our master and his mate determined to try some of the chiefest men of the country, whether they had any treachery in them, so they took them into the cabin, and gave them so much wine and aqua vita, that they were all merrie, and one of them had his wife with him, which sat as modestly as any of our country women could do in a strange place. In the end one of them was drunk, [86] which had been on board of our ship all the time that we had been there, and that was strange to them, for they could not tell how to take it. The canoes and folks all went on shore, but

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some of them came again, and brought strings of beads, (wampum), some had six, seven, eight, nine, ten, which they gave the inebriate. The drunken man slept all night quietly." [87]

If the Hudson Indians, below the highlands, were found to be hostile on the ascent, they proved doubly so during the descent. The narrowness of the channel in some places, gave them the opportunity of using their arrows with effect, and they assembled on several of the most prominent headlands in great force. But the intrepidity of Hudson foiled every effort. By his musketry, and by the discharges from a culverine, he killed several of them, and dispersed the rest. He got through the mountains on the 1st of October. Below this, one of their canoes, containing one man, pertinaciously followed the ship. This individual having climbed up the rudder, crept into the cabin window, and stole two bandaliers, a pillow, and two shirts, for which theft the mate shot him dead. The Indians followed the vessel, and a running skirmish ensued, in which several of the pursuers were killed. On the 4th he reached the bay, where, being favored by the wind, he made no attempt to land, but put out to sea, arriving at Dartmouth, England, on the 7th of November.

The only name bestowed on the stream appears to have been The Great river. [88]

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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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