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the United States. No copies, however, of either instrument, have been retained, or produced by the said commissioner.
The right of the State of New York, to the pre-emption of the Cayuga lands, is unquestioned, and also, that the said right embraces all possible alienations of said lands by the Indians, with the concurrence of the United States, according to the constitution and laws.
Therefore, I do, by command of the President of the United States, hereby transmit to your Excellency an explicit disavowal of the conduct of the said commissioner, relative to the said lease of the Cayuga lands to John Richardson, and also of the certificate relative to the Senecas' assignment of lands, to the children of Ebenezer Allen; and I am further ordered to inform your Excellency, that the said acts of the said commissioner were unauthorized by his instructions, and will be considered as entirely null and void by the United States.
But if, however, the State of New York should judge that it would derive any benefit from the due execution of said lease, the Executive authority of the United States will do every thing which may be proper, upon the occasion.
Colonel Pickering, who is going to New York, will personally wait upon your Excellency, to give you any further explanations which you may request. I have the honor to be, &c.
H. K. His Excellency Governor CLINTON.
Colonel Timothy Pickering to the Secretary of War.'
PHILADELPHIA, 16th August, 1791. Sir: In addition to the information given in my report of the proceedings at the late treaty with the Six Nations of Indians, relative to the land assigned by the Seneca nation to the children of one of their women, by Ebenezer Allen, and to the Cayuga reservation, leased to John Richardson for twenty years, it may be expedient for me to mention more particularly the grounds and inducements to a public ratification of both at that treaty.
American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 170.
It appeared to be understood by the Senecas, that Messrs. Morris and Ogden, as the grantees of Massachusetts, had the right of pre-emption of all their lands. But, at the same time, there existed nothing to bar a division of their whole country among themselves; and if they could divide the whole, they could certainly set of a part to two individuals of their nation as their share. This is the object of their deed to Allen's children, whom they called their children, agreeably to the rule of descent among them, which is in the female line; and in this deed, the land assigned is declared to be in full of those two children's share of the whole Seneca country. Here was the ground of my ratification.
Now, you will be pleased to recollect, that before this matter was opened in council, I had repeated the law of the United States relative to the Indian lands, and the solemn declaration of the President, last winter, to the Cornplanter, that they (the Indians) had the right to sell, or to refuse to sell, their lands, and that, in respect to their lands, they might depend on the protection of the United States; so that on this head they had now no cause of jealousy or discontent. This being by them well understood, I saw no way of avoiding the ratification of the assignment to their two children, without reviving, or rather exciting, their utmost jealousy, as it would have been denying the free enjoyment of their own lands, by some members of the nation, according to the will of the nation; and a denial, I was apprehensive, would lead them to think that the solemn assurances of the President were made but to amuse and deceive. Here you see my great inducement to the ratification. Let me now remark, that every proposition made by me to the Six Nations, for introducing among them the primary and most useful improvements of civil life, (propositions grounded on the President's declarations to the Cornplanter, which I was enjoined to repeat, and on your particular instruction on this point) leads to a separate occupancy and enjoyment of land. The introduction of the art of husbandry, in its improved state, was the great object; but improvements in husbandry could not take place without exclusive property, that the improver "might enjoy the fruit of his labor. Neither could the improving husbandman exist without the smith and the carpenter; and his flax and wool would furnish employment to the spinner and weaver. These were all the manual arts I mentioned. Instruction in the arts of reading and writing was at least equally desirable to the Indians; some of the chiefs have even manifested an anxiety to obtain such instruction for their children; and on this head the President was explicit, that they should receive the necessary aid. The obvious consequence of such improvements is the separate enjoyment of lands; the nature and advantages of such improvements were explained, and appeared to have been fully understood by the Five Nations, and they have explicitly agreed to adopt them. They only wait for that assistance which they were assured the United States were ready to afford them. Should that assistance prove successful, (for at this stage of the business I cannot entertain a suspicion that such assistance will not be furnished) it will tend to defeat the pre-emption right altogether, unless those improvements, by showing the Indians how small a portion of their lands, under proper cultivation, will suffice for their ample support, should induce them to part with the residue in exchange for a full supply of domestic animals, implements of husbandry, and other necessaries adapted to their improving condition; and this, as I some time ago intimated to Mr. Morris, appeared to me to afford the only chance of extinguishing the Indian title to any of the lands he had bought of Massachusetts.
With respect to the Cayugas' reservation, I had determined to give no countenance to a lease of it. John Richardson applied to me about it before the Indians arrived. I told him that the pre-emption right was with the State of New York; that, if the Cayugas could lease if for five years, they might for ten, twenty, a hundred, or a thousand, and thus defeat the pre-emption right of the State. I heard no more of it until a few days before the treaty was closed. Then the Cuyaga chiefs and Richardson made their applications, and then I was informed that a law of the State (passed as suggested, in consequence of the long lease obtained of the Indians by John Livingston and others) allowed of leases for any term not exceeding twenty-one years; and that, at the treaty last year, at fort Stanwix, Governor Clinton expressly assured the Cayugas that, if they pleased, they might lease their lands. The chiefs discovered much anxiety, and were importunate (the Fishcarrier, their head chief, in particular) to have the lease accomplished. I asked for the law referred to; the statutes were produced, but those at Newton did not reach down to that session of the Legislature in which it was said the law had been enacted. I was further informed, that, at a late session of the York Legislature, (I think the last winter) a petition had been preferred in behalf of a lessee from the same Cayugas, for the ratification of a lease of a small tract of land lying on the water communication of the Seneca and Cayuga lakes, for the term of fifteen years, and that the Assembly said a Legislative sanction was not necessary, the lease being for a term less than twenty-one years. All this information was repeated to me in such a manner as to afford a strong presumption of its truth; yet, that I might have all the evidence which the case would then admit of, I made inquiry of Colonel Brinton Paine, one of the judges of the county court at Newton, and he generally confirmed the information above recited. I then ratified the lease, as stated in my report, grounding the date on the information, and expressly referring to it. I have not a copy of the lease or of the ratification; the latter I wrote when I was in a very great hurry, I believe the last day I was on the ground; and, in transcribing it from my rough draught, I made divers alterations, which rendered the rough draught useless. The inducements to this ratification were similar to those in the case of the assignment to Allen's children. The ratification of that assignment I subjoin, as copied from my rough draught, in which I do not remember that any alterations were made.
The foregoing detail I have given as the matters rest upon my mind. I wished to have avoided meddling with them, but I could devise no way of doing it without exciting or confirming jealousies, which it was the great object of my mission to prevent or remove. I have the honor, &c.
P.S. I might have mentioned, that Mr. Allen declared that he would make to Messrs. Morris and Ogden a reasonable compensation for their pre-emption right to the lands assigned to his children.
The Secretary of War to Major General St. Clair.
It is said, and it is probably true, that Brandt has returned to Niagara from the Miami town, and that he has brought some Western indians with him; if so, and their designs are for peace, we shall soon hear from them.
The Indians at Buffalo creek, and those at Colonel Pickering's treaty, asserted that Brandt went forth for the purpose of peace, and intimations to that effect are also constantly given in this city by a gentleman in the confidence of Lord Dorchester: and it is said, that Sir John Johnson is to assemble the Five Nations at Buffalo creek immediately. The indications which shall result from this council and Brandt's messages will probably give a decided complexion, for the present, to Indian affairs.
If the British policy frowns upon Indian hostilities, and the Six Nations keep quiet, your operations, and your intimations of the disposition of the United States to be at peace with all the Indian tribes, will, in the course of the season, effect the object, and you will probably be suffered to establish your posts without opposition.
I enclose you duplicates of Col. Pickering's letter to you, of the 8th ultimo, and of the queries and answers of Captain Hendricks.
The treaty closed the fifteenth, and the Indians returned satisfied. Colonel Pickering did not attempt to persuade any of them to join our army, as he found such a proposal would be
disagreeable to them. But Big Tree came from O'Beel's town with a proposition to assist our army to make peace. This was debated and refused.
The President of the United States still continues anxious that you should, at the earliest moment, commence your operations.
I enclose the copy of a letter to Major General Butler, of this date, which I presume will be the last he will receive for the present at fort Pitt.
"American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 180.