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northward of the line of Pennsylvania, under purchase from that Livingston, to whom, he said, he had paid twenty thousand dollars for it. He said, also, that he had bought, likewise, from the council of the Thirteen Fires, and paid them twenty thousand dollars more for the same.
And he said, also, that it did not belong to us, for that the great king had ceded the whole of it when you made peace with him. Thus he claimed the whole country north of Pennsylvania, and west of the lands belonging to the Cayugas. He demanded it; he insisted on his demand, and declared that he would have it all. It was impossible for us to grant him this, and we immediately refused it. After some days he proposed to run a line at a small distance eastward of our western boundary, which we also refused to agree to. He then threatened us with immediate war if we did not comply.
Upon this threat, our chiefs held a council, and they agreed that no event of war could be worse than to be driven, with their wives and children, from the only country which we had any right to, and, therefore, weak as our nation was, they determined to take the chance of war, rather than to submit to such unjust demands, which seemed to have no bounds. Street, the great trader to Niagara, was then with us, having come at the request of Phelps, and as he always professed to be our great friend, we consulted him upon this subject. He also told us, that our lands had been ceded by the king, and that we must give them up.
Astonished at what we heard from every quarter, with hearts aching with compassion for our women and children, we were thus compelled to give up all our country north of the line of Pennsylvania and east of the Genesee river, up to the fork, and east of a south line drawn from that fork to the Pennsylvania line.
For this land, Phelps agreed to pay us ten thousand dollars in hand, and one thousand a year for ever.
He paid us two thousand and five hundred dollars in hand, part of the ten thousand, and he sent for us to come last spring, to receive our money; but instead of paying us the remainder of the ten thousand dollars, and the one thousand dollars due for the first year, he offered us no more than five hundred dollars, and insisted that he agreed with us for that sum, to be paid yearly. We debated with him for six days, during all which time he persisted in refusing to pay us our just demand, and he
insisted that we should receive the five hundred dollars; and Street, from Niagara, also insisted on our receiving the money, as it was offered to us. The last reason he assigned for continuing to refuse paying us was, that the king had ceded the lands to the Thirteen Fires, and that he had bought them from you, and paid you for them.
We could bear this confusion no longer, and determined to press through every difficulty, and lift up our voice that you might hear us, and to claim that security in the possession of our lands which your commissioners so solemnly promised us. now entreat you to inquire into our complaints and redress our wrongs.
FATHER: Our writings were lodged in the hands of Street, of Niagara, as we supposed him to be our friend; but when we saw Phelps consulting with Street on every occasion, we doubted of his honesty towards us, and we have since heard, that he was to receive for his endeavors to deceive us, a piece of land ten miles in width, west of the Genesee river, and near forty miles in length, extending to Lake Ontario; and the lines of this tract have been run accordingly, although no part of it is within the bounds which limit his purchase. No doubt he meant to deceive us.
FATHER: You have said that we are in your hand, and that, by closing it, you could crush us to nothing. Are you determined to crush us? If you are, tell us so, that those of our nation who have become your children, and have determined to die so, may know what to do.
In this case, one chief has said he would ask you to put him out of pain. Another, who will not think of dying by the hand of his father or of his brother, has said he will retire to the Chateaugay, eat of the fatal root, and sleep with his fathers in peace.
Before you determine on a measure so unjust, look up to God, who made us as well as you. We hope he will not permit you to destroy the whole of our nation.
FATHER: Hear our case. Many nations inhabited this country, , but they had no wisdom, and, therefore, they warred together. The Six Nations were powerful, and compelled them to peace; the lands, for a great extent, were given up to them; but the nations which were not destroyed, all continued on those lands, and claimed the protection of the Six Nations, as the brothers of their fathers. They were men, and when at peace, they had a right to live upon the earth. The French came among us, and built Niagara; they became our fathers, and took care of us. Sir William Johnston came and took that fort from the French; he became our father, and promised to take care of us, and did so, until you were too strong for his king. To him we gave four miles round Niagara as a place of trade. We have already said, how we came to join against you; we saw that we were wrong; we wished for peace; you demanded a great country to be given up to you; it was surrendered to you, as the price of peace, and we ought to have peace and possession of the little land which you then left us.
FATHER: When that great country was given up, there were but few chiefs present, and they were compelled to give it up, and it is not the Six Nations only that reproach those chiefs with having given up that country. The Chippewas, and all the nations who lived on those lands westward, call to us, and ask us, Brothers of our fathers, where is the place you have reserved for us to lie down upon?
FATHER: You have compelled us to do that which has made us ashamed. We have nothing to answer to the children of the brothers of our fathers. When, last spring, they called upon us to go to war to secure them a bed to lie upon, the Senecas entreated them to be quiet, till we had spoken to you. But, on our way, down we heard that your army had gone toward the country which those nations inhabit, and if they meet together, the best blood on both sides will stain the ground.
FATHER: We will not conceal from you that the great God, and not men, has preserved the Cornplanter from the hands of his own nation. For they ask, continually, Where is the land which our children, and their children after them, are to lie down upon? You told us, say they, that the line drawn from Pennsylvania to lake Ontario, would mark it forever on the east, and the line running from Beaver creek to Pennsylvania, would mark it on the west, and we see that it is not so. For, first one, and then another, come and take it away, by order of that people which you tell us promised to secure it to us. He is silent, for he has nothing to answer.
When the sun goes down he opens his heart before God, and earlier than that sun appears again upon the hills, he gives thanks for his protection during the night: for he feels that among men, become desperate by their danger, it is God only that can preserve him. He loves peace, and all he had in store, he has given to those who have been robbed by your people, lest they should plunder the innocent to repay themselves. The whole season which others have employed in providing for their families, he has spent in his endeavors to preserve peace; and, at this moment, his wife and children are lying on the ground, and in want of food; his heart is in pain for them, but he perceives that the great God will try his firmness, in doing what is right.
FATHER: The game which the Great Spirit sent into our country for us to eat, is going from among us. We thought he intended that we should till the ground with the plough, as the white people do, and we talked to one another about it. But before we speak to you concerning this, we must know from you whether you mean to leave us and our children any land to till. Speak plainly to us concerning this great business.
All the lands we have been speaking of belonged to the Six Nations; no part of it ever belonged to the King of England, and he could not give it to you.
The land we live on, our fathers received from God, and they transmitted it to us, for our children, and we cannot part with it.
FATHER: We told you that we would open our hearts to you. Hear us once more.
At fort Stanwix we agreed to deliver up those of our people who should do you any wrong, that you might try them, and punish them according to your law. We delivered up two men accordingly, but instead of trying them according to your law, the lowest of your people took them from your magistrate, and put them immediately to death. It is just to punish murder with death, but the Senecas will not deliver up their people to men who disregard the treaties of their own nation.
FATHER: Innocent men of our nation are killed one after another, and of our best families; but none of your people who have committed the murder have been punished.
We recollect that you did not promise to punish those who killed our people, and we now ask, was it intended that your people should kill the Senecas, and not only remain unpunished by you, but be protected by you against the revenge of the next of kin?
FATHER: These are to us very great things. We know that
CORNPLANTER, his X mark.
GREAT-TREE, his X mark.
JOSEPH NICHOLSON, Interpreter.
The reply of the President of the United States to the speech of
Cornplanter, Half-Town, and Great-Tree, Chiefs and Council
lors of the Seneca nation of Indians. I, the President of the United States, by my own mouth, and by a written speech, signed with my own hand, and sealed with the seal of the United States, speak to the Seneca nation and desire their attention, and that they would keep this speech in remembrance of the friendship of the United States.
I have received your speech with satisfaction, as a proof of your confidence in the justice of the United States, and I have attentively examined the several objects which you have laid before me, whether delivered by your own chiefs at Tioga Point, in the last month, to Colonel Pickering, or laid before me in the present month, by the Cornplanter, and the other Seneca chiefs now in this city.
In the first place, I observe to you and request it may sink deeply into your minds, that it is my desire, and the desire of the United States that all the miseries of the late war should be forgotten and buried forever. That, in future, the United States and the Six Nations should be truly brothers, promoting each other's prosperity by acts of mutual friendship and justice.
I am not uninformed, that the Six Nations have been led into some difficulties, with respect to the sale of their lands since the peace. But I must inform you that these evils arose before the
"American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 142.