History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Life and Times of
Sir William Johnson, Bart.,
by William L. Stone
Albany: J. Munsell, 78 State Street, 1865.
Recurring again to the progress of affairs in New York: Mr. Clinton, the governor, it will be remembered, had dissolved the second assembly of his administration, on the fourteenth of May, in high displeasure, because, as he alleged in part, of the personal disrespect with which he had been treated by that body; but chiefly because of its inattention to the defenses of the colony, and its neglect of his recommendations of a cooperation with the New England colonies in the expedition against Cape Breton. Orders for such cooperation having been received from his majesty's ministers, the governor held that obedience was an imperative duty. But the people seem not to have sympathized with the feelings of the governor; and the uncomplying members, with few exceptions, and with singular unanimity, were returned to the new assembly, which met on the twenty-fifth of June, and elected Mr. David Jones, of Queens county, a gentleman distinguished for his rigid views of economy in public affairs, as their speaker. The news of the fall of Louisburg had not reached New York at the time of the meeting. Much of the governor's speech, therefore, after pressing again upon the attention of the assembly the importance of placing the colony in such a posture of defence, as the crisis demanded, was devoted to the Louisburg expedition. The governor had indeed himself only heard of the earlier operations of the siege ; the capture of the first great battery upon land, and of the Vigilante by sea, and the latest dispatches thence consisted of urgent appeals from Governor Shirley and Commodore Warren, for troops, seamen, and provisions. These solicitations were in turn urged upon the assembly with all the force at the command of the executive mind. But although few changes had taken place in the representative body of the general assembly, yet the dissolution had wrought a wonderful improvement in its temper. The answer of the council, drawn by Chief Justice DeLancey, was an echo to the speech, and that of the house, reported by Mr. Henry Cruger, was equally cordial. The members declared their full persuasion that the governor had the service of the crown and the welfare of the colony sincerely at heart, and they were equally explicit in avowing their own readiness to consider with the greatest attention, the several particulars recommended for their action. Nor was their conduct inconsistent with their professions, A bill was passed with the utmost promptitude, appropriating five thousand pounds toward the Louisburg expedition; another for the necessary fortifications both upon the wild inland frontier and the defence of the seaboard; and yet another for completing the governor's house. These acts having been passed with great harmony, the assembly adjourned from the sixth of July to the thirteenth of August,- during which interval of time the glorious news of the fall of Louisburg was received,-an achievement the most important by far of the war, and "which proved an equivalent at the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, for all the successes of the French upon the continent of Europe."
The Indian relations of the colony were yet again becoming critical. Notwithstanding the efforts of the proceeding year, both at Albany and in the grand council at Lancaster, to keep this jealous and fickle people true to their covenants with the English; and notwithstanding then repeated pledges of fidelity, the Six Nations were again wavering; and the misgivings of the governor as to their designs, were communicated by a message to the house, on the twentieth of August, in which an appropriation was asked to enable his excellency to meet them in council, and if possible, ascertain the grounds of their discontents.
The governor also announced that some of the Canadian Indians had broken the treaty of neutrality existing between them and the Six Nations, by committing hostilities against some of the frontier settlements of New England, where several of the inhabitants had been barbarously murdered. In the apprehension that those Indians might be meditating an infliction of the like cruelties upon the frontiers of New York, it was necessary that due measures of precaution should be adopted.
There had been indications of dissatisfaction among the Six Nations for several months prior to this message. Indeed the governor had referred to their "disquietudes " and "commotions" in his speech dissolving the assembly in May; and it was well ascertained that during the preceding winter, emissaries from the French had been among them, while they in turn had sent several messengers with belts into Canada. Information to this effect was elicited on the examination of John Henry Lydius, of Albany, before the executive council in New York, on the sixth of April. Lydius was a man of extensive acquaintance with the Indians, having resided much among them, in Canada several years, and again at Lake George. He stated that he had recently seen a French Indian, from whom he had received information touching the designs of the enemy against Oswego, and also in regard to the feelings of the Six Nations. The Mohawks were very uneasy, and had sent several chiefs to confer with the Indians in Canada. The cause of this uneasiness was a suspicion awakened in their bosoms by evil disposed persons, that the English were preparing at no distant day entirely to destroy them. This apprehension, notwithstanding its absurdity, was seriously entertained by many of the people, and even by some of the chiefs; though the orators Abraham, and Brant, gave no credence to the tale.(1)
(1) Manuscript journals of the executive council, secretary of state's office, Albany. The Brant here spoken of, was probably the father or the reputed father of Joseph Brant of the revolution.
It was unfortunately but too true, at the time under consideration, that no good feelings existed between the Mohawks and the people of Albany. At least the Mohawks looked upon the latter with great bitterness, having been overreached in some land purchases, in which the Albanians were concerned. So they alleged; and by availing themselves of these prejudices, some evil-minded persons had to some extent persuaded the Mohawks that the Albanians were plotting the destruction of their nation, in order to possess themselves of their domain. Rumors were accordingly circulated among them from time to time to the end that measures for killing them were in actual preparation. They were thus kept in a state of feverish excitement and suspicion for several weeks. At length a runner arrived in the Mohawk country, in the night, with information that the Albanians were then actually upon the march against them, to the number of several hundreds, armed with muskets, and treading to the sound of arms and trumpets. The poor Indians of the lower castle, Dyiondarogon, fled in wild affright to their upper towns. All was confusion, the women seizing their infants, and the children who were able to run, flying in the utmost consternation, and uttering the dead cry-"QUE !" QUE !" QUE !" (1)
The dissatisfaction having become extensive among the confederates, it was judged expedient to depute Conrad Weiser, the Pennsylvania interpreter for the Six Nations, to make a tour of friendly observation among them. Weiser was a native of Schoharie, partaking largely of the confidence of the Indians; and it was rightly judged that a mission by him to their several towns and castles would be attended with happy results. Those results were realized. On the twenty-ninth of July the missionary returned, and his journal was laid by Mr. Clinton before his council. After traversing the cantons beyond Onondaga, and soothing their feelings, he was accompanied from the
(1) Manuscript journals of the executive council.
Great council fire by a party of the chiefs to Oswego, where free conferences were held. The Indians complained that the English kept them in the dark about the progress of the war, dealing out their news in generals only, whereas they wanted the particulars. They were aware that the governor of New York was displeased with their visits to Canada, but they insisted that they went thither only upon business,-the governor of Canada knowing very well that I,, he could do nothing with them to the detriment of the English.
Returning from Oswego through the Mohawk country, Weiser was received gladly at their castles and treated kindly. The Indians there said they inclined to the English, having always been used well by the governors of New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. But the people of Albany had not treated them well. They had cheated them, and were yet trying to get their lands and destroy them. They likewise accused the Albanians of being engaged in unlawful commerce with the enemy, to whom they had sold large quantities of powder. In regard to the visits of the Mohawk chiefs to the French in the winter, they admitted that they had gone thither because they were displeased with the Albanians, and in order to let them know that they would act as they pleased.
At Dyiondarogon, the Indians convened a council to hear Mr. Weiser on the subject of their late alarm in consequence of the rumored invasion from Albany. He assured them that the whole story which had caused their panic was false, and told them of the great surprise of the governor on hearing of such an occurrence, at a time, too, when he thought the parties were all so friendly to each other. The Indians, in reply, admitted that their alarm had been very great; but, they said, the matter had all been settled, "and thrown into the bottomless pit." The explanations made to them had been perfectly satisfactory and they now requested even that no inquiries might be instituted as to the authors of the alarm.(1) But it will presently appear that they did not exactly hold to this resolution themselves.
At the same meeting of the council, letters were received from the commissioners of Indian affairs at Albany, announcing the approach of scalping parties of the Canadian Indians toward the frontier settlements at the north. They also stated that two men had been murdered on the border of New England,-the Indians having plucked out their eyes, torn off their scalps, and cut out their hearts. This last statement was confirmed by a letter from Governor Shirley, who spoke of it as a violation of the treaty of neutrality between the Canadian Indians and the Six Nations, and urging as a proper measure that the latter should now forthwith take up the hatchet. Upon these representations, the council advised that an interpreter be immediately dispatched to the Six rations, with a request that they should ascertain to what tribe or nation the offending Indians belonged ; and also whether the murders were approved by their tribe. If so, then the Six Nations were requested to consider what was to be their own line of duty. If not, if the murders were disapproved,-then it was left to the Six Nations to say whether they ought not to demand the surrender of the murderers,-the outrage having been altogether unprovoked.(2)
The cruelties just set forth, were committed upon the frontier of New Hampshire ; but others equally atrocious were committed shortly afterward in the border settlements even of Connecticut, of which information was given to Mr. Clinton by Governor Low of that colony. Nor were these all. It was discovered in August, that while the Canadian Indians had thus been let loose upon the New England frontiers,-crossing even the province of Massachusetts in order to strike Connecticut,-the French
(1) Manuscript journals of the executive council.
(2) Manuscript proceedings of the executive council.
had become yet more earnest in their solicitations for the Iroquois to join them against the English. Certain of the Mohawk and Tuscarora chiefs, moreover, had made still another visit to the governor of Canada, in connection, as there was but too much reason, to believe, with these solicitations. At all events, the return of those chiefs was preceded by a state of feeling among the people, that deterred the Indian commissioners at Albany from sending a messenger among them, with the overture from the governor and council as directed on the twenty-ninth of July. Meantime a letter was received from Mr. Phipps, acting governor of Massachusetts during the absence of Governor Shirley at Louisburg, announcing that by the advice of his majesty's council of that province, war had been formally proclaimed, against the Eastern and Canadian Indians.(1) The alarm had therefore become very general before the special attention of the assembly was called, to the subject by the message from the governor of the twentieth, of August. That body saw the necessity of immediate and efficient action, and an appropriation of six hundred pounds, in addition to an unexpended balance of four hundred pounds yet in the hands of the executive, was made to defray the expenses of a treaty with the Indians at Albany. The assembly thereupon adjourned- over by permission, from the twenty-ninth of August to the fifteenth of October; and the necessary measures were concerted for holding a general council with the Indians without unnecessary delay.
The negotiations were opened on the fifth day of October, Governor Clinton being attended, by Messrs. Philip Livingston, Daniel Horsmanden, Joseph Murray and John Rutherford, members of the executive council. Delegates were also in attendance from the provinces of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.(2) About four hundred
(1) Manuscript journals of the executive council.
(2) The commissioners from Massachusetts, were, Colonel John Stoddare Jacob Wendell, Thomas Berry, John Choate and Thomas Hutchinson. From Connecticut, Roger Wolcott, lieutenant-governor, and Colonel Stanley. From Pennsylvania, Messrs. Thomas Lawrence, John Kinsley, and Isaac Norris.
and sixty Indians were present, representing all the confederates excepting the Senecas, who had been detained by a distressing malady, which was sweeping off many of their members. The first interview between the parties was brief,-the Indians retiring immediately after they had been presented to the governor and drunk the king's health. A consultation was then held among the commissioners as to the arrangement of their subsequent proceedings, at which it was determined that in order to impress the Indians With an idea of the harmonious action and consequent strength of the English, Governor Clinton should speak the united voice of the whole,-that is, of New York and New England. The Pennsylvania commissioners, being members of the Friends' society, preferred to make an address by themselves, in their own peculiar way. It was likewise determined that Mr. Clinton should present the chiefs with the hatchet to strike the French, and the Indians in their alliance, for the infraction of their treaty of neutrality with the Six Nations, unconditionally,-leaving it with the Indiana themselves to suggest, should they elect to do so, some other measure for obtaining satisfaction for the barbarities that had been committed.(1)
Before proceeding to the main business for which the council had been convened, however, the governor having heard that notwithstanding their message by Conrad Weiser, the Indians had never been altogether satisfied in regard to the affair of the panic, heretofore described, determined upon having a full explanation of that mysterious affair;-and two days or more were occupied upon that subject. Hendrik, chief sachem of the Mohawks, made a long speech. He said their distrust of the designs of the English, but especially of the people of Albany, had
(1)Manuscript journals of the executive council.
been originally awakened by Jean Coear, a French interpreter, residing principally among the Senecas. This man had long been regarded by the English as a dangerous neighbor, and they had endeavored to persuade the Senecas to send him away,-but in vain. Hendrik now informed Mr. Clinton that Coeur, on returning from a visit to Canada, had told the Indians that the governor of New York had been proposing to the governor of Canada to unite for the entire destruction of their people. The tale sank deep into their minds. They knew that the Albany people had treated them badly, and when they came to reflect upon the project, and thought of the condition to which the River Indians had been reduced, and of the fact that the people of Connecticut and Massachusetts had taken all their land away, they began to ponder whether such might not be the design of the English against themselves -the Six Nations. "You," said Hendrik, pointing to Colonel Stoddard, "have got our land, and driven us away from West-field, where my father lived formerly."(1) When they thought of these things, he repeated, we feared that "the Mohawks would be brought to the same pass," and rendered "as poor" as the River Indians were. "This," he said, " had remained in their hearts some years, and now, as the governor would have them open their minds, they had done it, and they hoped it would have a good effect."(2)
A long discussion followed the harangue of Hendrik, in regard to the authors of the claim, and several persons were to a greater or less extent implicated, Next to Jean Coeur, a man named Philip Van Patten, was charged as the chief agent in getting up the mischievous alarm, and a
(1) This remark will be the better understood on the statement of the fact that the family of Hendrik was Mohegan, and only Mohawk by adoption. Yet Hendrik and his brothers -were chiefs of the first influence-Hendrik himself being the principal chief of the tribe, and was known as King Hendrik.
(2)Manuscript journals of the executive council.
Negro wench of Schenectady was likewise compromised. But the statements of the Indians were contradictory; Van Patten purged himself on oath, and the Indians were evidently opposed to any very rigid investigation being made.(1) Indeed before the close of this branch of the proceedings, it came to be justly doubted whether the whole affair had not been a contrivance of a few of the Indian to excite sympathy, and perhaps extort from the government an increased amount of presents,-a lame and impotent conclusion of the touching and dramatic scene brought to the contemplation of Conrad Weiser.
The council was opened for the transaction of the proper business upon which it had been summoned, on the tenth of October. After the usual preliminary salutations, in which the Indians were told as a matter of course, that the council had been invited for the purpose of "rendering, strengthening, and brightening the covenant chain," and after condoling with them for the absence of the Senecas, because of the grievous sickness their people were suffering, the governor spoke to them directly, and in a tone of disapprobation of the late visit of some of their chiefs to Montreal, where they had met the French governor. It had been asserted in justification of that visit, that they had gone thither to protest against any invasion of Oswego by the French-the Six Nations desiring that that post might be suffered to remain as "a place of trade and peace," and pretending that they were determined to defend it if attacked. But at the very time when their chiefs were in Montreal, the Canada Indians had been breaking their treaty, and murdering the English. Not only so, but the governor assured them he had been informed that while pretending that their mission was thus pacific, they had so far accepted the hatchet from the Grench, as to agree to bring it home, and consider whether they would strike their English friends with it or not. This story, however,
(1) Manuscript journals of the executive council.
the English could, hardly believe to be true, unless they should hear it from their own lips. A full and plain answer was expected, " that all stains might be wiped from the covenant chain."
Mr. Clinton next proceeded to relate to the chiefs the progress of the war-informing them of the action of the French the preceding year upon Annapolis Royal, and giving them an account of the fall of Louisburg, and the conquest of Cape Breton. In this part of the country, the English had lain still; but they had last year informed the governor of Canada, that unless the war should be conducted in a Christian-like manner, unless the Canada Indians were restrained from murdering the English,-the Six Nations would immediately join the latter and strike upon the settlements of Canada. Yet the French seemed determined not to be at peace with us, and their Indians had not only killed some of the English, but had left a hatchet by the side of one of the dead,-thus defying the English and the Six Nations to take it up. The most solemn and sacred engagements were broken by them, and they had shown that even belts of wampum would not bind them to their promises. The English had been slighted, and the Six Nations treated as though they were not worthy to be regarded. They think you will not perform what you have threatened, and they fear not your displeasure. Thus they reflect dishonor upon you.
The chiefs were next told that it was high time both the English and the Six Nations should exert themselves to vindicate their honor. The English desired not the destruction of their fellow creatures, yet they felt that they ought not any longer to bear these insults and this evil treatment from the French." Therefore, since neither our peaceable disposition nor examples, nor any methods we have been able to use, have sufficed to prevail upon them to forbear their barbarous treatment of us, but on the contrary, they seem determined to provoke our resentment, in the name of God we are resolved not only to defend ourselves, but by all possible methods to put it out of their power to misuse and evil-entreat us as they have heretofore done. And we doubt not of your ready and cheerful concurrence with us, agreeable to the solemn promise you made us in this place last summer, in joining with against the French, and such Indians as are or may be instigated by them to commit hostilities against us." This passage of the governor's speech was followed by the presentation of a large belt of wampum, with a hatchet hung to it.(1)
Having taken two days for consideration, the Indians replied, renewing the covenant chain, which they said they were determined should never rust again, "because they would daily wipe off the dust, and keep it clean." In regard to the visit of their chiefs to Montreal, they denied peremptorily, the truth of the report of their having consented to receive the hatchet from the French governor, even for the purpose of consideration. Upon this and some other points of less importance, the chiefs answered without embarrassment. But on the subject of consenting to go upon the warpath against the French, they spoke warily. They thanked the governor for the information he had given of the progress of the war; but touching the direct appeal to them to engage in the contest, they cautiously said :-"you desire, as we are of one flesh with you, that we would also take up the hatchet against the French, and the Indians under their influence, with you. We the Six Nations, accept of the hatchet,-and will put it in our bosoms ! "We are in alliance with a great many of the far Indians, and if we should so suddenly lift up the hatchet without acquainting our allies with it, they would perhaps take offence at it. We will therefore before we make use of the hatchet against the French or their Indians, send four of our people, who are now ready to go, to Canada, to demand satisfaction for the wrongs they have done our
(1) Manuscript journals of executive council.
Brethren, and if they refuse to make satisfaction, then we will be ready to use the hatchet against them, whenever our brother the governor of New York orders us to do it." Two months, they said, in reply to a question from the governor, would be time enough for them to ascertain whether the aggressors would make the requisite satisfaction ; and in the event of their not doing so, they repeated their declaration to use the hatchet at the command of his excellency.(1)
In subsequent sections of their speech, the Indians took occasion to remind the governor that the original design of their alliance with the English was the advantages they hoped to derive from a reciprocal trade; but goods had been sold very high to them of late. They were now destitute of clothes, powder, and lead; "and people who are to go to war ought to be well provided with ammunition. This, however, should their request be now denied, was the last time they should speak upon the subject." In his rejoinder, the governor explained to them the causes of the high prices of goods at that time. They were occasioned by the war; but he would see that goods should be sold to them at as reasonable rates as possible. The presents to be distributed among them were then announced,-the governor enjoining it upon the chiefs to reserve for the absent Senecas their due proportion.(2) The discussions were concluded by a few words of wholesome advice addressed to the red chieftains now about returning again to their own beloved wilds.
Thus far the proceedings of the conference had been marked by apart harmony. But Mr. Clinton had no sooner ended his closing address, than the Massachusetts
(1) Here the Indians requested his excellency, that, as they had given the war-shout upon his delivering the hatchet to them, that their brethren would now signify their approbation of this article (or avowal) in their usual method. Whereupon his excellency and most of the company joined in shouts with three hurrahs. "-Ms. records of the council recorded w the executive journals.
(2) Manuscript journals of the executive council.
commissioners rose to express their disapprobation of that part of the speech of the sachems in which they had declared, that for the present instead of using the hatchet they should "put it in their bosoms." The commissioners stated that when the Indians first arrived in Albany, they came with a good heart to enter into the war at once; and they attributed their change of purpose and desire of delay, to the intrigues of the people of Albany. The Albanians, the commissioners said they well knew, were opposed to having the Six Nations engaged in the contest, and they doubted not that the hesitancy which the chiefs had manifested, was altogether owing to their influence. On the subject of the proposed mission to obtain satisfaction from the red men in Canada, the Massachusetts gentlemen regarded the proposition as a mere pretext for delay. If satisfaction were given at all, as pretended to be given, it would probably consist of a small bundle of skins, of no substantial value, and would be no atonement at all. They were therefore greatly disappointed with the turn the negotiation had taken.(1)
It would not be safe to affirm that this suspicion of the Massachusetts gentlemen was indulged without cause. The Albanians, at that time, regardless of the higher obligations of patriotism, were engaged in a lucrative contraband trade with Montreal, through the agency, probably, of the Caughnawagas, as in former years. Of this trade the Six Nations themselves had complained, because of the supplies of ammunition thus furnished to the French; and the governor, in his last preceding message to the assembly, had recommended strong measures for its suppression. Nevertheless, from a motive of policy, for it could have been prompted by nothing else -Mr. Clinton affected surprise at the suggestions of the Massachusetts gentlemen, inasmuch, he urged, as it had been the declared opinion of Governor Shirley himself, that it would
(1)Manuscript journals of the executive council.
be in every view sufficient were the entire neutrality of the Indians to be preserved. That neutrality it was the strong desire of the Six Nations to maintain unbroken; and it was to this end, as Mr. Clinton now insisted to the Massachusetts gentlemen, that some of their chiefs were in Canada at the very time when the directions for holding the present council were issued. And yet before it was possible for them to ascertain the disposition of the Canada Indiana, or to reap the fruits of their pacific endeavors, greatly to his surprise, Massachusetts had actually declared war against the Indians living under the jurisdiction of the French. It was moreover urged as an additional reason why the Six Nations sought the delay, that many of their own people were in Canada and their safety would be compromised should their friends at home take up the hatchet at once.(1) Thus closed the council; but the vail which Mr. Clinton had attempted thus adroitly to throw over the subject-matter of the complaints of the Massachusetts gentlemen, was quite too transparent to be satisfactory.
A new aspect was imparted to the case in the course of the ensuing night, by the arrival of an express from Massachusetts with intelligence that a body of French and Indians had fallen upon one of the blockhouses on the New England frontier, - situated at Great meadow, on the Connecticut river. On the next morning, therefore, the Massachusetts gentlemen applied to Governor Clinton upon the subject, urging that by this attack of the French and their Indians upon one of the king's forts, the case had substantially arisen, in which he might, under the express agreement of the Six Nations two days before, order them forthwith upon the warpath, and that they would be bound to go. They had said, that if before the expiration of the two months delay for which they asked, further acts of hostility should be committed by the enemy, at the orders
(1) Manuscript journals of the executive council.
of the governor they would "strike with the hatchet."(1) The exigency had already occurred, and the commissioners now requested that the order might be given,-stipulating at the same time, that they would supply the Indians with the necessary munitions of war for the campaign, at their own expense, provided they could he led forth against the enemy at once. But this request, after full advisement in council, was not acceded to by Mr. Clinton. The Indians were not inclined to immediate war; nor had the case provided for actually arisen, inasmuch as the attack upon the blockhouse must have been made before the Six Nations had entered into the engagement referred to. Those nations, moreover, were the only existing barrier between the frontiers of New York and the enemy ; and the withdrawal of that barrier, while the frontier of New York was thus naked and exposed, would be subjecting the settlements to infinite peril. The governor, therefore, could not consent to the proposition, until he had consulted the assembly, and given that body time to place the frontier of New York in a posture of defence. While, however, for these and other reasons that were stated, Mr. Clinton declined allowing the commissioners the immediate aid of the Six Nations, he nevertheless offered a detachment of militia for their assistance at the expense of this province.(2) This proffer was declined, and the Commissioners departed -not, it is to be presumed, in the best possible humor.
Returning to the city of New York, where the general assembly, after a short recess, had resumed its sittings, the governor, on the second of November, communicated the results of his mission to Albany, by a special message, in which he took occasion to speak of the aggressions of the French and their Indian allies upon the border settlements
(1) So the Massachusetts commissioners insisted, but the fact does not appear exactly thus in the formal speech preserved in the records of the council.
(2) Manuscript journals of the executive council.
of New England, and urged the importance of making immediate and adequate provision for the defence of the northern frontier of New York. It was not known how strong was the combined French and Indian force that had attacked the fort at Great meadow, nor how soon it might fall upon some of the exposed settlements of this province. Such an attack was certainly to he apprehended; and the governor pressed home with earnestness upon the assembly the absolute necessity of erecting fortifications at the exposed points, not only for the security of the out-settlements, but for the purpose of giving encouragement and confidence to the Indians, that they might be induced, with the greater cheerfulness, to join in the war. For the Mohawks, always brave themselves, "felt a very allowable repugnance to expose the lives of their warriors in defence of those who made no effort to defend themselves; who were neither protected by the arms of their sovereign, nor by their own courage."(1)
These admonitions received not that immediate attention which the exigency of the case demanded; and but two short weeks intervened before the war-whoop, and the reddened sky at the north, startled the assembly from its inaction, and taught it that earlier and more earnest heed ought to have been given to his excellency's repeated recommendations. Fort St. Frederick, at Crown Point, was at that period garrisoned with sufficient strength to enable its commander, Mr. Vaudreuil, to send out strong detachments to annoy the English settlements at his pleasure. One of these had fallen, as already stated, upon the Great meadow settlement in Massachusetts; and at break of day, on the morning of November seventeenth, a combined force of four hundred French and two hundred and twenty Indians, invaded the flourishing settlement of Saratoga, overcame the garrison, killed and took nearly the entire population prisoners, and laid every building in ashes, excepting a new mill standing out of their course. The affair is represented
(1) Grant's Memoirs of Madame Schuyler.
as having been "barbarous," in the only contemporaneous -written account of it which I have been able to find; the number of persons killed, however, is not stated. (1) But the slaughter must have been considerable, since Governor Clinton, in a speech to the assembly several weeks afterward, says, "many of our people were murdered." Among the slain was the brave Captain Schuyler, a brother of Colonel Phillip Schuyler. More than one hundred prisoners were taken away, a majority of whom were blacks,-slaves, it is presumed. Thirty families were sacrificed in the massacre ; a description of the horrors of which would be but a repetition of the story of Schenectady, fifty-five years before.(2) So adroitly had the enemy concerted their plans, that every house must have been attacked at nearly the same instant of time. One family only escaped, the footsteps of whose flight were lighted by the conflagration.
From Saratoga the invaders crossed the Hudson, and swept with equal desolation the village of Hoosic. A small fort at this place, commanded by Col. Hawks, made a spirited defence, but was compelled to surrender. These events laid the settlements naked and open to the ravages of the enemy down to the very gates of Albany, spreading general consternation through the interior of the province. The inhabitants in the settlements most exposed rushed into Albany for security; and the males of that city capable of bearing arms, were obliged to go upon the watch in the environs, each in his turn every other night.(3)
Immediately on the receipt of these unwelcome tidings in New York, the governor transmitted a message announcing the facts to the general assembly, written under the
(1) Ms. letter from Robert Sanders, of Albany, to "Mr. William Johnson, merchant at Mount Johnson," in which the writer says : In obedience to your request I shall bear in mind that this is not the Saratoga watering place of modern days, but the old town of Saratoga lying upon the margin of the Hudson river, rendered yet more famous in history by the surrender of General Burgoyne upon its plains in 1777.
(2) Dunlop's History of New York.
(3) Sanders's letter.
strong excitement of the moment, and upbraiding that body for its disregard of those measures of defence which had so frequently been urged upon its consideration. "The like was never known," he said, "that one part of a government should be left to be butchered by the enemy, without assistance from the other." The high road from Crown Point to Albany, was now open to the enemy, and he again called upon the assembly for means to enable him to erect a proper fort at the carrying-place, and such other defences as might be necessary for the protection of the settlements in the neighborhood of the places that had been destroyed. Further provision was also demanded for the Indian service, the exigence having now occurred which would authorize the governor to call the Six rations forthwith into the service. Supplies were moreover indispensable for subsisting the troops and militia from the city, and the lower counties which must be detailed to the north for its protection. The sharp tone of the message gave offence. And yet it was very natural that the governor, who certainly was chargeable with no neglect of duty himself, should speak to those who were, in terms of earnestness, if not of reproof.(1)
Suppressing their resentment at the governor's tartness, for the moment, however, the assembly declared its readiness at all times, " to concur, cheerfully, in every reasonable measure for the honor of his majesty, and for the welfare and security of this colony; for the assistance, also, of our neighbors, and for any well-concerted plan, consistent with the circumstances of the colony, for distressing and harassing the enemy." As an earnest of their sincerity in this declaration, bills were passed making liberal appropriations for the service, accompanied by a resolution for building the oft-recommended fortress at the carrying-place,
(1) It is asserted by Smith, that the governor's irritation with the assembly had been excited a few days before the receipt of the news from Saratoga, by its proceedings in the case of the contested election of Edward Holland, to which transaction I shall have occasion again to advert.
And for rebuilding the fort at Saratoga. A resolution was also adopted, authorizing bounties to be given for scalps, taken either by white men or Indians, provided that that barbarous mode of warfare should be resorted to in the first instance by the enemy. Having done thus much for the military service, and passed the annual salary and supply bills, the assembly adjourned over from the twenty- eighth of November to the seventeenth of December, "then to meet at the house of Rear Admiral "Warren, in Greenwich."(1)
Early in December an important letter was laid before the privy council from Colonel Philip Schuyler, requesting the governor to send up three hundred men from the militia of the lower counties for the defence of Albany and Schenectady, and also asking for the immediate rebuilding of the fort at Saratoga where his brother had been slain. These requests had been in part anticipated by the governor, the two companies of independent fusileers stationed in New York having been ordered upon that service, who were then on their way. Yet, notwithstanding the pressing nature of the emergency, the removal of these troops from the metropolis caused dissatisfaction, and the local militia refused to perform duty as sentinels at the governor's residence, or at any other place save within the walls of the fort. Conceiving this conduct a high personal indignity, the attention, of the executive council was called to the subject, by whom an order was passed directing that the refractory conscripts should be compelled to perform the duty required.(2) In addition to the fusileers, a competent number of the militia were drafted for the frontier service, which was not very desirable to the yeomanry of the counties, especially in winter; and a spirit of insubordination among
(1) See journals of the colonial assembly. The prevalence of the smallpox in the city,-the simple antidote to that terrible disease of Dr. Jenner not having been discovered until nearly half a century after-ward-rendering the change expedient.
(2) Manuscript journals of the exeoative council.
them, manifested in several respects, but particularly in their refusal to aid in building the fort at Saratoga, gave Colonel Sclluyler no small amount of trouble.(1) There was probably cause for dissatisfaction among these levies, to some extent, arising not only from an ill-supplied commissariat, and the consequent absence of many things necessary for their comfort in a rigorous winter climate, but also from the want of a hospital for the sick, there being none at Albany. Nevertheless the work dt Saratoga went slowly forward, by such assistance as could be obtained from the people in that part of the country, covered by patrols of a few militia and about forty Indians upon whom Schuyler had prevailed to engage in that service.
On the whole, therefore, the winter set in gloomily. The entire frontier of New England and New York was exposed to the incursions of an agile and subtle enemy, certain to strike if opportunity presented, and yet equally certain to conceal the point of attack until the fall of the blow. On the eleventh of December, Mr. Low, governor of Connecticut, wrote to Mr. Clinton that a force of six hundred Frenchmen, and Indians was investing Stockbridge, against whom he had ordered a force to march with all possible alacrity. Several months previously, the governor of Georgia had written that he had been advised through the Chickasaws of a general movement against the northern colonies, by the Indians as remote even as the Mississippi valley, acting in alliance with those upon the great lakes,-all of whom had been instigated against the English by the French governor at New Orleans. This rumor was now received through a different channel, with the additional statement that these distant Indians were to join the French from Canada, and strike from the westward upon the settlements of Orange, Ulster, and Albany counties,-especially upon the towns of Esopus and Minisink,
(1) Manuscript journals of executiue council,
correspondence of Colonel Schuyler.
(2) Letter from a surgeon to the executive council.
-and also upon the frontiers of New Jersey and Pennsylvania ; while certain suspicious movements among the clans of Indians yet remaining in Orange and Ulster, who had withdrawn themselves suddenly from their hunting-grounds, served to strengthen the apprehension. But in regard to these latter clans, the alarm was allayed in a short time by a communication from Colonel DeKay, of Orange, who had induced them to come back and renew the chain of their covenant. The colonel was actually bound to some of their chiefs by a chain, for an hour or more, at their request, as an evidence that the two peoples were fast bound to each other.(1)
Meantime the general assembly met again on the seventeenth of December, the session being opened by a speech, short and to the purpose. After a brief statement of the measures he had adopted for the public defence during the recess, and asking for such an appropriation as would enable him to build a fort of stone, "large and strong," at the locality so often designated north of Albany, to guard the carrying-place between the Hudson river and Lake Champlain, the governor again urged the adoption of such measures as would enable him to form a union for the more efficient prosecution of the war with the other colonies, a proposition which had again been pressed upon his consideration by the government of Massachusetts. Some action of this kind had become the more necessary, inasmuch as there was reason to believe that the French were organizing a powerful force in Canada, with the design of penetrating into the heart of New York. Among the documents communicated with the speech, was a letter from Doctor Colden, dated at Coldenham, in the county of Orange, stating that the French had now a considerable party among the Six Nations, industriously engaged in sowing the seeds of disaffection, and in promoting their own interests. Certain it was, that
(1) Manugsript journals of the executive council.
by means of some adverse influence, the Confederates were again occupying a doubtful position. This appears from the fact, that immediately after the disaster at Saratoga, the governor had directed the Indian commissioners at Albany, to send an interpreter into the Iroquois country, requiring of them a compliance with their engagements in such a contingency, made at the treaty. The order for them to "draw the hatchet from their bosoms," and proceed immediately against the enemy, was peremptory. But the chiefs refused a compliance with the mandate ; and the commissioners, in announcing the result of the mission, suggested the calling of another council larger than the former, at which they thought it would be necessary to send the Indians off upon some expedition before they should return to their castles.(1) This unexpected information was announced to the general assembly by a special message; and the dispatch from the commissioners was referred to a committee of the executive council for consideration.
(1) Manuscript journals of the executive council.
But notwithstanding the irritation which the faithlessness of the Indians was so well calculated to produce, Mr. Horsmanden, chairman of the committee of reference, made an able and humane report, going so far in extenuation of their conduct as almost to justify their sullen refusal to enter into the war. It was considered that they were a scattered people, and their cantons remote from each other; and whatever other plausible pretexts they might themselves assign for their conduct, it could not be doubted that they were under terrible apprehensions for the safety of their own wives and children, should they engage in the contest, since in the absence of their warriors, who were to protect their own country from the French and their Indians? The committee therefore recommended that forts and garrisons should be established in the country of the Confederates, as places of security for the women and children, and the old men, in case of invasion. This measure would give confidence to the chiefs ; and the committee therefore recommended a correspondence with the other colonies upon the subject, with a view of obtaining assistance in the erection of the works proposed.(1)
The importance of an alliance with the New England colonies, both for mutual security, and for offensive and defensive operations, was by this time becoming more obvious, and the recommendations of the governor began now to be received with greater favor by the assembly than previous to this threatened Indian defection. Accordingly, on the twenty-fourth of January the house asked of the council its concurrence in a resolution for the appointment of a joint committee upon the state of the colony. The proposition was acceeded to ; and the result of their deliberations, after their action had been again quickened by an Indian alarm, was the sanction, in the spring, of the project which had been so long and so much desired by the executive, and so blindly resisted by the representatives of the people.(2) The commissioners appointed to confer with those from New England, were Philip Livingston, Daniel Horsmanden, and Joseph Murray, of the council; Philip Verplanck and William Nicholl, of the assembly.
An improved spirit of liberality was likewise evinced as to appropriations for the public defence, and for other branches of the service. Yet the proceedings of the assembly, upon some of these measures at least, were not characterized by the greatest harmony. There waa an increasing hostility in the lower house against the governor; the assembly and council were at odds upon a question of parliamentary law, involving, indirectly, the royal prerogative,
(1) Manuscript journals of the executive council.
(2) The committee on the part of the council, recommending this course, consisted of Chief Justice Delancey, Joseph Murray, Daniel Horsmanden, and John Moore. On the part of the house, the committee consisted of Mr. Clarkson, Captain Richards, Major Van Horne, Mr. Cruger, Mr. Verplanck, Colonel Beekman, Captain Livingston, and Colonel Chambers.
and finally, the members of the assembly fell into discreditable feuds among themselves touching the distribution of the public burdens among their respective counties.(1) The mixed question of parliamentary law and prerogative, arose on a disagreement between the legislative council and the assembly, upon the details of a bill authorizing an emission of bills of credit to the amount of ten thousand pounds. Before the introduction of the bill, the assembly had inquired of the governor whether he had any objection to an emission of paper money to meet the exigencies of the country; to which question the proper answer was given by Mr. Clinton, that "when the bill came to him he would declare his opinion.(2) The bill was therefore introduced and passed by the assembly; but the council, disapproving of certain of its provisions, requested a conference. The assembly, however, declared that inasmuch as it was a money bill, they would consent to no such course upon the subject. The council thereupon summarily rejected the bill, and sent up an address to the governor, written by the chief justice, DeLancey, setting forth their reasons, by which their course had been governed. One of the objections to the bill, according to this representation, was found in the fact, "that the money proposed to be raised by the bill was not granted to his majesty, or to be issued by warrants in council, as it ought to have been, and as has usually been done." This objection involved the old question of the royal prerogative-nothing more. On the subject of the right claimed by the assembly of exclusive power over the details of money bills, the address asserted " the equal right of the council to exercise their judgments upon these bills." Various other objections of detail were suggested; but the two points specified above, were the only grounds of principle upon which the council relied in justification of its course. Yet the unreasonableness of the assumption of the house, that the
(1) Smith's History of Nnw York, vol. ii, p.
(2) Ibid, p. 96.
council should not be allowed even to point out and rectify the defects of anything which they chose to call a money bill, was argued at considerable length. (1)
Just at this point of collision, the small pox, which had driven the assembly from the city, appeared in Greenwich, producing a panic that for several days entirely arrested the course of business. The assembly prayed for a recess from the ninth of March to the twelfth of April, and also for leave to adjourn their sittings to some other place. Jamaica and Brooklyn were suggested; but in the opinion of the governor the demands of the public service forbade so long an interregnum, and he therefore directed their adjournment for a week, then to meet in the borough of Westchester. They convened there accordingly; but the inconvenience of the locality was such that the members begged permission to adjourn, even back to the infected city again, rather than remain where they were. In the end the governor directed them to adjourn to Brooklyn, at which place the transaction of business was resumed on the twentieth of March, on which day an address to the governor was ordered to be prepared, in answer to that of the council respecting the rejection of the before mentioned revenue bill.
Whether such an address was prepared or not, the journals of the assembly afford no information; but the bill appears to have died between the two houses. Still, the dangers and necessities of the country were such as to forbid inaction, whatever might become of questions of prerogative, or of legislative etiquette. Letters from the interior were pouring in upon the governor and council full of alarming reports, and asking for assistance at various points. The inhabitants of Kinderhook and Claverack, now that the fort at Hoosic had been destroyed, and the settlement deserted, petitioned for the erection of a couple of blockhouses for their security; large parties of
(1) Journals of the legislative council, from the proceedings at length.
the enemy were traversing the country about Saratoga, the garrison of which, weak and uneasy, threatened desertion; parties both of French and Indians were infesting the environs of Albany and Schenectady, destroying property, and killing and scalping, or snatching into captivity such of the inhabitants as ventured beyond the walls; the emissaries of the French, of whom the Jesuit priest, Jean Coeur, was the leader, were holding the Six Nations in check, and preventing them from going upon the warpath, while advices were received from the Canajoharie castle that the governor of Canada had invited the Confederates to a meeting with him at Onondaga, which invitation had been accepted. (1) The settlements in the interior, not excepting the considerable towns of Albany and Schenectady were therefore, in a state of general panic. A stronger principle than that of prerogative, if not than that of political liberty, demanded, with irresistible emphasis, some efficient action from the legislature. Before the close of the session, therefore, another revenue bill, originating in a spirit of compromise, and yet making no essential concession on the part of the representatives of the people, was passed by both houses, and received the signature of the governor.
This bill provided for raising a supply of thirteen thousand pounds, by a tax on estates, real and personal, and for emitting bills of credit to the same amount for the public
(1) Ms. journals and correspondence of the executive council. Among the letters written about this time was one from the Indian commissioners stating that certain persons for a suitable compensation were willing to undertake to bring Jean Coeur from the Seneca country to Albany. The commissioners thought it an important object, but it seems not to have been acted upon. A letter was also received from Arent Stevens, a landholder residing at the Canajoharie castle, announcing that the Caughnawaga Indians had sent a belt from Canada, desiring to come back to reside in their native valley. On the same day a communication was received from John Henry Lydius, who had an intimate knowledge of the Caughnawagas, proposing a scheme for persuading them to the same course. But these suggestions came to nothing.
service, and creating a sinking fund for their redemption.(1) But though the bill was passed by the council -without amendment, it did not get through wholly without opposition. Chief Justice DeLancey, usually among the most strenuous supporters of the prerogatives of the crown, it is true, yielded his hostility to the popular demand; but Mr. Rutherford recorded his protest upon the journals of the council at length. His objections were manifold as to the details of the bill, but the objection in chief was one of principle. The bill, he contended, proposed a method of raising a revenue which should be resorted to only in case of extreme necessity; the amount proposed to be raised, was to be applied wholly to the object set forth in the bill;-the points of defence designated would be entirely insufficient for the protection of Albany county;- but above, and more than all, the Assembly had in the bill encroached upon the royal prerogative by nominating officers to receive and apply the money to be raised, and by designating the sites of the defences to be constructed,-- duties properly belonging to the commander-in-chief.
On the other hand, the majority of the council caused to be entered upon the journals, the reasons which impelled them to vote for the bill. These were, in chief, the exigencies of the country at large, and especially the perilous condition of the frontier,-the enemy having appeared in the environs both of Albany and Schenectady, where several bloody outrages had been committed. In answer to Mr. Rutherford's objections touching the prerogative, the majority of the council said that the provisions objected, to had been inserted, and the officers designated in the hill
(1) The annual tax by which it was proposed that the bills should be redeemed, in three years, amounted to the sum of £4,331. 10s. 8d The apportionment was as follows:-New York £1,444 8s. 11d ;-Albany, £622. 3s. 9 1/2;-Kings, £254. l8s 0 1/2d;-Queens, £487. 9s. 5 1/2d;-Suffolk, £433.6s. 8d.;-Richmond, £131. 6s. 3 1/2d.;-Westchester, £240. 14s. 8 1/2d;-Ulster, £393. 18s. 9 1/2d;- Orange, £144. 8s. 10 1/2d ;- Dutchess, £180. 11s. l 1/2d;-total, £4,881. 10s 8d.
named, with the consent of the governor. It will be at once perceived that this arrangement with the executive was a mere subterfuge. The victory was with the representatives of the people. And it was signal; deserving of special note as marking the progress of the great principles of popular liberty.(1)
The general assembly had now been in session, with a very few brief intermissions, for nearly a twelvemonth, and although it had done much, yet the fruits of its labors were not altogether satisfactory. In addition to the passage of the revenue bill as already rehearsed, a resolution had been adopted directing the construction of six strong blockhouses, three of the number to be planted between the southwest frontier garrison of Massachusetts, and the post at Saratoga; and the other three between Saratoga and Fort William in the upper Mohawk country. The appropriation for these objects, however, had been diverted from the greater and more essential projects of a substantial fortress at the carrying-place,-orders for the construction of which had been given by the governor early in the preceding winter, and without which there could be no security against invasions from Crown Point at the pleasure of its commander. One hundred and fifty pounds were voted for repairing the works at Oswego ; three thousand three hundred and seventy-five pounds were directed to be raised by lottery, to be applied to the defences of the city and harbor of New York;-the fort at Schenectady was directed to be repaired;-a corps of rangers were to be organized for the protection of the western lines of Ulster and Orange counties;-the militia laws were amended with a view to their greater vigor, in conformity with the wishes of the governor;-and the resolution of the preceding session, offering a bounty upon scalps, was enacted into a law. But although the fortress of Louisburg was threatened with a formidable attack from France, and although Governor Shirley, Sir William Pepperell, and Admiral
(1) See the proceedings at large in the journals of the legislative council.
forward the quota of reinforcements which New York had been required to supply, yet the assembly peremptorily refused a compliance with the demand. They would not even provide a convoy to guard a transport ship then in the harbor of New York, destined to the assistance of that garrison, which had been greatly weakened by fever and other causes. There had indeed been from the first a reluctance in the assembly to cooperate with the New England colonies in regard to the conquest of Cape Breton, not wholly susceptible of explanation; but for their present course at least a plausible excuse was found in the weak and exposed condition of their own colony.
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