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Was this a mere oversight? More than a hundred years had elapsed since the Cabots had visited the coast; Raleigh's attempted colonization twenty years before was well known, and the history of the discovery and conquest of Mexico had been proclaimed to all the civilized world. Still the omission might be considered a mere oversight but for the fact that his second charter (May 23, 1609), to “The Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the City of London for the Colony of Virginia,” and that of March 12, 1611-12, are equally silent on this important subject. It may be said, and no doubt truly, that the Crown merely granted away its title in the lands, its public domain, leaving the grantees to deal with the inhabitants as they might find most advantageous. Nevertheless this view will not afford an adequate excuse for the total disregard of the native occupants. The grants were to subjects, and the rights of sovereignty were retained.
The so-called “Great Patent of New England,” granted “absolutely” to the "said council called the council established at Plymouth, etc.,” the “aforesaid part of America, lying and being in breadth from forty degrees of northerly latitude from the equinoctial line, to forty-eight degrees of said northerly latitude inclusively, and in length of and within all the breadth aforesaid throughout the main land from sea to sea, together also with all the firm land, soils, grounds, havens, ports, rivers, waters, fishings, mines, and minerals,” yet there is not the slightest intimation that any portion of this territory was occupied by natives. There is, however, a proviso that the grant is not to include any lands “actually possessed or inhabited by any other Christian prince or state,” but the Indians are wholly ignored.
That the Indians were not wholly forgotten when the charter of Charles I, granting Maryland to Lord Baltimore, was penned, is evident from some two or three statements therein. But none of these, nor anything contained in the charter, has any reference to the rights of these natives, or show any solicitude for their welfare or proper treatment. The first of these is a mere recognition of the fact that the territory is partly occupied by them: “A certain region, hereinafter described, in a country hitherto uncultivated, in the parts of America, and partly occupied by savages having no knowledge of the Divine Being." The next is that mentioning as the payment required “two Indian arrows of those parts to be delivered at the said castle of Windsor, every year on Tuesday in Easter week.” The third is a mere mention of "savages” as among the enemies the colonists may have to encounter. The fourth and last allusion to the natives is in the twelfth section, which authorizes Lord Baltimore to collect troops and wage war on the “barbarians” and other enemies who may make incursion into the settlements, and “to pursue them even beyond the limits of their province,” and “if God shall grant it, to vanquish and captivate them; and the captives to put to death, or according to their discretion, to save.” The only allusion to the natives in William Penn's charter is the same as the latter in substance and almost the same in words.
Other charters might be cited to the same effect, but those mentioned will suffice to show that as a rule the English sovereigns wholly ignored the Indians' rights in granting charters for lands in North America; that they gave no expression therein of a solicitude for the civilization or welfare of the natives. Although the problem of dealing with these native occupants was thus shifted on the grantees and colonists, yet there were occasions where the government was forced to meet the question and take some action. Actual contact with the difficulty, of course, made it necessary to develop some policy or adopt some rule of action. This led to the recognition of the Indians' right of occupancy and the obligation on the government to extinguish this right by purchase or other proper means consistent with national honor.
Soon after Charles II ascended the throne he sent (1664) commissioners to America to examine into the condition of the colonies and to determine all complaints and appeals which might be brought before them. Their purpose was thwarted largely by the opposition of Massachusetts, and, although deciding on some claims based on purchases from Indians, no policy in this respect was developed.
As treaties, etc, concerning lands, which may be considered as made directly with the English government and not with the colonies, the following may be mentioned as the most important.
A “Deed from the Five Nations to the King, of their Beaver Hunting Ground," made at Albany, New York, July 19, 1701. This, which is somewhat peculiar, is as follows:
New York Colonial Documents, Vol. IV, p. 908.
(Appearing in original text.)
To all Christian & Indian people in this parte of the world and in Europe over the great salt waters, to whom the present shall come--Wee the Sachims Chief men, Capt`s and representatives of the Five nations or Cantons of Indians called the Maquase Oneydes Onnandages and Sinnekes living in the Government of New Yorke in America, to the north west of Albany on this side the Lake Cadarachqui sendeth greeting-Bee it known unto you that our ancestors to our certain knowledge have had, time out of mind a fierce and bloody warr with seaven nations of Indians called the Aragaritkas! whose Chief cômand was called successively ChohahiseThe land is scituate lyeing and being northwest and by west from Albany beginning on the south west side of Cadarachqui lake and includes all that waste Tract of Land lyeing between the great lakes off Ottowawa: and the lake called by the natives Sahiquage and by the Christians the lake of Swege* and runns till it butts upon the Twichtwichs and is bounded on the right hand by a place called Quadoge conteigning in length about eight hundred miles and in bredth four hundred miles including the country where the bevers the deers, Elks and such beasts keep and the place called Tieugsachrondio, alias Fort de Tret or Wawyachtenok and so runs round the lake of Swege till you come to place called Oniadarondaquat which is about twenty miles from the Sinnekes Castles which said seaven nations our predecessors did four score years agoe totally conquer and subdue and drove them out of that country and had peaceable and quiet possession of the same to hunt beavers (which was the motive caused us to war for the same) for three score years it being the only chief place for hunting in this parte of the world that ever wee heard of and after that wee had been sixty years sole masters and owners of the said land enjoying peaceable hunting without any internegation, a remnant of one of the seaven nations called Tionondade whom wee had expelled and drove away came and settled there twenty years agoe disturbed our beaver hunting against which nation wee have warred ever since and would have subdued them long ere now had not they been assisted and succoured by the French of Canada, and whereas the Governour of Canada aforesaid hath lately sent a considerable force to a place called Tjeughsaghronde the principall passe that commands said land to build a Forte there without our leave and consent, by which means they will possess themselves of that excellent country where there is not only a very good soile but great plenty of all manner of wild beasts in such quantities that there is no maner of trouble in killing of them and also will be sole masters of the Board hunting whereby wee shall be deprived of our livelyhood and subsistance and brought to perpetual bondage and slavery, and wee having subjected ourselves and lands on this side of Cadarachqui lake wholy to the Crown of England wee the said Sachims chief men Capt"s and representatives of the Five nations after mature deliberation out of a deep sence of the many Royall favours extended to us by the present great Monarch of England King William the third, and in consideration also that wee have lived peaceably and quietly with the people of albany our fellow subjects above eighty years when wee first made a firm league and covenant chain with these Christians that first came to settle Albany on this river which covenant chain hath been yearly renewed and kept bright and clear by all the Governours successively and many neighbouring Governm“ of English and nations of Indians have since upon their request been admitted into the same. Wee say upon these and many other good motives us hereunto moveing have freely and voluntary surrendered delivered up and for ever quit claimed, and by these presents doe for us our heires and successors absolutely surrender, deliver up and for ever quit claime unto our great Lord and Master the King of England called by us Corachkoo and by the Christians William the third and to his heires and successors Kings and Queens of England for ever all the right title and interest and all the claime and demand whatsoever which wee the said five nations of Indians called the Maquase, Oneydes, Onnondages, Cayouges and Sinnekes now have or which wee ever had or that our heirs or successors at any time hereafter may or ought to have of, in or to all that vast Tract of land or Colony called Canagariarchio beginning on the northwest side of Cadarachqui lake and includes all that vast tract of land lyeing between the great lake of Ottawawa and the lake called by the natives Cahiquage and by the Christians the lake of Swege and runns till it butts upon the Twichtwichs and is bounded on the westward by the Twichtwichs by a place called Quadoge conteining in length about eight hundred miles and in breath four hundred miles including the Country where Beavers and all sorts of wild game keeps and the place called Tjeughsaghrondie alias Fort de tret or Wawyachtenock and so runns round the lake of Swege till you come to a place called Oniadarundaquat which is about twenty miles from the Sinnekes castles including likewise the great falls Oakinagaro, all which (was] formerly posest by seaven nations of Indians called the Aragaritka whom by a fair warr wee subdued and drove from thence four score years agoe bringing many of them captives to our country and soe became to be the true owners of the same by conquest which said land is scituate lyeing and being as is above expressed with the whole soyle the lakes the rivers and all things pertaining to the said tract of land or colony with power to erect Forts and castles there, soe that wee the said Five nations nor our heires nor any other person or persons for us by any ways or meanes hereafter have claime challenge and demand of in or to the premises or any parte thereof alwayes provided and it is hereby expected that wee are to have free hunting for us and the heires and descendants from us the Five nations for ever and that free of all disturbances expecting to be protected therein by the Crown of England but from all the action right title interest and demand of in or to the premises or every of them shall and will be utterly excluded and debarred for ever by these presents and wee the said Sachims of the Five Nations of Indians called the Maquase, Oneydes, Onnandages, Cayouges and Sinnekes and our heires the said tract of land or Colony, lakes and rivers and premises and every part and parcell thereof with their and every of their appurtenances unto our souveraigne Lord the King William the third & his heires and successors Kings of England to his and their proper use and uses against us our heires and all and every other person lawfully claiming by from or under us the said Five nations shall and will warrant and forever defend by these presentsIn Witness whereof wee the Sachims of the Five nations above mentioned in behalf of ourselves and the Five nations have signed and sealed this present Instrument and delivered the same as an Act and deed to the Honde John Nanfan Esq' Lieu' Gov' to our Great King in this province whom wee call Corlaer in the presence of all the Magistrates officers and other inhabitants of Albany praying our Brother Corlaer to send it over to Carachkoo our dread souveraigne Lord and that he would be graciously pleased to accept of the same Actum in Albany in the middle of the high street this nineteenth day of July in the thirteenth year of His Maj'v's
Hurons. (Appearing in original text.)
2Northwest. See next page, line 12. (Appearing in original text-p. 14, 1. 39, herein.)
Lake Huron. (Appearing in original text.) "Lake Erie. (Appearing in original text.)
5At the head of Lake Michigan. Mitchell's Map of North America, 1755. Now, Chicago, according to Map of the British Dominions in North America, 1763, prefixed to Charlevoix's Voyages, 8o, Dublin, 1766. (Appearing in original text.]