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present Government of the United States was established, when the separate States, and individuals under their authority, undertook to treat with the Indian tribes respecting the sale of their lands. But the case is now entirely altered; the General Government, only, has the power to treat with the Indian nations, and any treaty formed, and held without its authority, will not be binding
Here, then, is the security for the remainder of your lands. No State, nor person, can purchase your lands, unless at some public treaty, held under the authority of the United States. The General Government will never consent to your being defrauded, but it will protect you in all your just rights.
Hear well, and let it be heard by every person in your nation, that the President of the United States declares, that the General Government considers itself bound to protect you in all the lands secured to you by the treaty of fort Stanwix, the 22d of October, 1784, excepting such parts as you may since have fairly sold to persons properly authorized to purchase of you. You complain that John Livingston and Oliver Phelps, assisted by Mr. Street, of Niagara, have obtained your lands, and that they have not complied with their agreement. It appears, upon inquiry of the Governor of New York, that John Livingston was not legally authorized to treat with you, and that every thing that he did with you has been declared null and void, so that you may rest easy on that account. But it does not appear, from any proofs yet in possession of Government, that Oliver Phelps has defrauded you.
If, however, you have any just cause of complaint against him, and can make satisfactory proof thereof, the federal courts will be open to you for redress, as to all other persons. But your great object seems to be, the security of your remaining lands; and I have, therefore, upon this point, meant to be sufficiently strong and clear that in future you cannot be defrauded of your lands; that you possess the right to sell, and the right of refusing to sell, your lands; that, therefore, the sale of your lands, in future will depend entirely upon yourselves. But that, when you may find it for your interest to sell any part of your lands, the United States must be present, by their agent, and will be your security that you shall not be defrauded in the bargain you
It will, however, be important, that, before you make any further sales of your lands, you should determine among yourselves who are the persons among you, that shall give such conveyances thereof as shall be binding upon your nation, and forever prevent all disputes relative to the validity of the sale.
That, besides the before mentioned security for your land, you will perceive, by the law of Congress for regulating trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, the fatherly care the United States intend to take of the Indians. For the particular meaning of this law, I refer you to the explanations given thereof by Colonel Timothy Pickering, at Tioga, which, with the law, are herewith delivered to you.
You have said in your speech that the game is going away from among you, and that you thought it the design of the Great Spirit that you should till the ground; but before you speak upon this subject, you want to know whether the Union mean to leave you any land to till. You now know that all the lands secured to you by the treaty of fort Stanwix, excepting such parts as you may since have fairly sold, are yours, and that only your own acts can convey them away. Speak, therefore, your wishes on the subject of tilling the ground. The United States will be happy in affording you every assistance, in the only business which will add to your numbers and happiness. The murders that have been committed upon some of your people, by the bad white man, I sincerely lament and reprobate; and I earnestly hope, that the real murderers will be secured and punished as they deserve. This business has been sufficiently explained to you here, by the Governor of Pennsylvania, and by Colonel Pickering, on behalf of the United States, at Tioga. The Senecas may be assured that the rewards offered for apprehending the murderers, will be continued until they are secured for trial; and that, when they shall be apprehended, they will be tried and punished as if they had killed white men.
Having answered the most material parts of your speech, I shall inform you that some bad Indians, and the outcasts of several tribes, who reside at the Miami village, have long continued their murders and depredations upon the frontiers lying along the Ohio. That they have not only refused to listen to my voice, inviting them to peace, but that, upon receiving it, they renewed their incursions and murders, with greater violence than ever.
I have, therefore, been obliged to strike those bad people, in order to make them sensible of their madness. I sincerely hope they will hearken to reason, and not require to be farther chastised. The United States desire to be the friends of the Indians upon terms ofjustice and humanity; but they will not suffer the depredations of the bad Indians to go unpunished. My desire is that you would caution all the Senecas, and Six Nations, to prevent their rash young men from joining the Maumee Indians: for the United States cannot distinguish the tribes to which bad Indians belong, and every tribe must take care of their own people. The merits of the Cornplanter, and his friendship for the United States, are well known to me and shall not be forgotten; and, as a mark of the esteem of the United States, I have directed the Secretary of War to make him a present of — dollars, either in money or goods, as the Cornplanter shall like best; and he may depend upon the future care and kindness of the United States; and I have also directed the Secretary of War to make suitable presents to the other chiefs in Philadelphia; and also, that some further tokens of friendship be forwarded to the other chiefs, now in their nation.
Remember my words, Senecas! Continue to be strong in your friendship for the United States, as the only rational ground of your future happiness, and you may rely upon their kindness and protection. An agent shall soon be appointed to reside in some place convenient to the Senecas and Six Nations. He will represent the United States. Apply to him on all occasions. If any man bring you evil reports of the intentions of the United States, mark that man as your enemy: for he will mean to deceive you, and lead you into trouble. The United States will be true and faithful to their engagements.
Given under my hand, and the seal of the United States, at Philadelphia, this twenty-ninth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety, and in the fifteenth year of the sovereignty and independence of the United States. (L. S.]
GEO. WASHINGTON. By the President:
Th: JEFFERSON. By command of the President of the United States of America:
H. KNOX, Secretary for the Department of War.
The speech of the Cornplanter, Half-Town, and Great-Tree, Chiefs
of the Seneca Nation, to the President of the United States of America.
FATHER: Your speech, written on the great paper, is to us like the first light of the morning to a sick man, whose pulse beats too strongly in his temples, and prevents him from sleep. He sees it, and rejoices, but he is not cured.
You say that you have spoken plainly on the great point. That you will protect us in the lands secured to us at fort Stanwix, and that we have the right to sell or to refuse to sell it. This is very good. But our nation complain that you compelled us at that treaty to give up too much of our lands. We confess that our nation is bound by what was there done; and, acknowledging your power, we have now appealed to yourselves against that treaty, as made while you were too angry at us, and, therefore, unreasonable and unjust. To this you have given us no answer.
FATHER: That treaty was not made with a single State, it was with the Thirteen States. We never would have given all that and to one State. We know it was before you had the great authority, and as you have more wisdom than the commissioners, who forced us into that treaty, we expect that you have also more regard to justice, and will now, at our request, reconsider that treaty, and restore to us a part of that land.
FATHER: The land which lies between the line running south from lake Erie to the boundary of Pennsylvania, as mentioned at the treaty at fort Stanwix, and the eastern boundary of the land which you sold, and the Senecas confirmed to Pennsylvania, is the land on which Half-Town and all his people live, with other chiefs, who always have been, and still are, dissatisfied with the treaty at fort Stanwix. They grew out of this land, and their fathers' fathers grew out of it, and they cannot be persuaded to part with it. We therefore entreat you to restore to us this little piece.
FATHER: Look at the land which we gave to you at that treaty, and then turn your eyes upon what we now ask you to restore to us, and you will see that what we ask you to return is a very
1American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 143.
little piece. By giving it back again, you will satisfy the whole of our nation. The chiefs who signed that treaty will be in safety, and peace between your children and our children will continue so long as your land shall join to ours. Every man of our nation will then turn his eyes away from all the other lands which we then gave up to you, and forget that our fathers ever said that they belonged to them.
FATHER: We see that you ought to have the path at the carrying place from lake Erie to Niagara, as it was marked down at fort Stanwix, and we are all willing it should remain to be yours. And if you desire to reserve a passage through the Conewango, and through the Chataugue lake and land, for a path from that lake to lake Erie, take it where you best like. Our nation will rejoice to see it an open path for you and your children while the land and water remain. But let us also pass along the same way, and continue to take the fish of those waters in common with you. FATHER: You say that you will appoint an agent to take care
Let him come and take care of our trade; but we desire he may not have any thing to do with our lands: for the agents which have come amongst us, and pretended to take care of us, have always deceived us whenever we sold lands; both when the King of England and when the States have bargained with us. They have by this means occasioned many wars, and we are therefore unwilling to trust them again.
FATHER: When we return home, we will call a great council, and consider well how lands may be hereafter sold by our nation. And when we have agreed upon it, we will send you notice of it. But we desire that you will not depend on your agent for information concerning land: for, after the abuses which we have suffered by such men, we will not trust them with any thing which relates to land.
FATHER: We will not hear lies concerning you, and we desire that you will not hear lies concerning us, and then we shall certainly live at peace with you.
FATHER: There are men who go from town to town and beget children, and leave them to perish, or, except better men take care of them, to grow up without instruction. Our nation has looked round for a father, but they found none that would own them for children, until you now tell us that your courts are open to us as to your own people. The joy which we feel at this great