History From America's Most Famous Valleys
of Tryon County;
Border Warfare of New York,
During the Revolution.
By William W. Campbell
New York; Printed and Published by J. & J. Harper 1831
"The most remarkable difference existed between the Confederates and the other Indian nations with respect to eloquence. You may search in vain in the records and writings of the past, or in events of the present times, for a single model of eloquence among the Algonkins, the Abenaquis, the Delawares, the Shawanese, or any nation of Indians, except the Iroquois. The few scintillations of intellectual light; the faint glimmerings of genius, which are sometimes to be found in their speeches, are evidently derivative, and borrowed from the Confederates."
Speech of the Mohawk Chiefs to the Magistrates of Albany, on the 25th of March, 1689--90, after the destruction of Schenectady.
"Brethren!--The murder of our brethren at Schenectady by the French, grieves us as much as if it had been done to ourselves, for we are in the same chain; and no doubt our brethren of New England will be likewise sadly affected with this cruel action of the French. The French on this occasion have not acted like brave men, but like thieves and robbers. Be not therefore discouraged. We give this belt to wipe away your tears.
"Brethren!--We lament the death of so many of our brethren, whose blood has been shed at Schenectady. We don't think that what the French have done can be called a victory, it is only a farther proof of their cruel deceit. The governor of Canada sends to Onondaga, and talks to us of peace with our whole house, but war was in his heart, as you nay now see by woeful experience. He did the same formerly at Cadarackui, and in the Senecas country. This is the third time he has acted so deceitfully. He has broken open our house at both ends, formerly in the Senecas country, and now here. We hope, however, to be revenged of them. One hundred of our bravest young men are in pursuit of them; they are brisk fellows, and they will follow the French to their doors. We will beset them so closely, that no a man in Canada shall dare to step out of doors to cut a stick of wood; but now we gather up our dead to bury them, by this second belt.
"Brethren!--We came from our castles with tears in our eyes, to bemoan the blood shed at Schenectady by the perfidious French. While we bury our dead murdered at Schenectady, we know not what may have befallen our own people, that are in pursuit of the enemy: they may be dead. What has befallen you may happen to us; and therefore we come to bury our brethren at Schenectady with this third belt.
"Great and sudden is the mischief, as if it had fallen from Heaven upon us. Our forefathers taught us to go with all speed to bemoan and lament with our brethren, when any disaster or misfortune happens to any in our chain. Take this belt of vigilance, that you may be more watchful for the future. We give our brethren eye water to make them sharp sighted. (Giving a fourth belt.)
"We now come to the house where we usually renew the chain; but alas! we find the house polluted with blood. All the Five Nations have heard of this, and we are come to wipe away the blood, and clean the house. We come to invite Corlear, and every one of you, and Quider, (Calling to every one of the principal men present by their names) to be revenged of the enemy, but this fifth belt.
"Brethren!--Be not discouraged; we are strong enough. This is the beginning of your war, and the whole house have their eyes fixed upon you at this time, to observe your behavior. They wait your motion, and are ready to join in any resolute measures.
"Our chain is a strong chain; it is a silver chain; it can neither rust or be broken. We, as to our parts, are resolute to continue the war.
"We will never desist, so long as a man of us remains. Take heart; do not pack up and go away; (This was spoken to the English, who were about to remove from Albany.) this will give heart to a dastardly enemy. We are of the race of the bear; and a bear, you know, never yields, while one drop of blood is left. We must all be bears. (Giving a sixth belt.)
"Brethren!--Be patient; this disaster is an affliction which has fallen from Heaven upon us. The sun, which hath been cloudy, and sent this disaster, will shine again with its pleasant beams. Take courage, courage--(Repeating the word several times as they gave a seventh belt.)
(To the English.)
"Brethren!--Three years ago we were engaged in a bloody war with the French, and you encouraged us to proceed in it. Our success answered our expectation; but we were not well begun, when Corlear stopped us from going on. Had you permitted us to go on, the French would not now have been able to do us the mischief they have done--we would have prevented their sowing, planting , or reaping.
"We would have humbled them effectually, but now we die. The obstructions you then made now ruin us. Let us after this be steady, and take no such false measures for the future, but prosecute the war vigorously. (Giving a beaver skin.)
"The brethren must keep good watch, and if the enemy come again, send more speedily to us. Don't desert Schenectady. The enemy will glory in seeing it desolate. It will give them courage that had none before. Fortify the place; it is not well fortified now: The stockades are too short; the Indians can jump over them. (Gave a beaver skin.)
"Brethren!--The mischief done at Schenectady cannot be helped now; but for the future, when the enemy appears anywhere, let nothing hinder your sending to us by expresses, and fire great guns, that all may be alarmed. We advise you to bring all the River Indians under your subjection to live near Albany, to be ready on all occasions.
"Send to New England; tell them what has happened to you. They will undoubtedly awake, and lend us their helping hand. It is their interest, as much as ours, to push the war to a speedy conclusion. Be not discouraged; the French are not so numerous as some people talk. If we but heartily unite to push on the war, and mind our business, the French will soon be subdued."
The magistrates having returned an answer on the twenty-seventh, to the satisfaction of the Indians, they repeated it all over, word by word, to let the magistrates see how carefully they minded, and then added,
"Brethren!--We are glad to find you are not discouraged. The best and wisest men sometimes make mistakes. Let us now pursue the war vigorously. We have a hundred men out; they are good scouts. We expect to meet all the sachems of the other nations, as they come to condole with you. You need not fear our being ready at the first notice. Our axe is always in our hands; but take care that you be timely ready. Your ships, that must do the principal work, are long a fitting out. We do not design to go out with a small company, or in skulking parties; but as soon as the nations can meet, we shall be ready with our whole force. If you would bring this war to a happy issue, you must begin soon, before the French can recover the losses they have received from us, and get new vigor and life, therefore send in all haste to New England. Neither you nor we can continue long in the condition we are now in: we must order matters so that the French be kept in continual fear and alarm at home; for this is the only way to be secure, and in peace here.
"The Scatikok Indians, in our opinion, are well placed where they are (to the northward of Albany); they are a good out guard; they are our children, and we must take care that they do their duty: but you must take care of the Indians below the town; place them near the town, so as they may be of more service to you."
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