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NIAGARA, May 18, 1791. SIR: A few days ago I had your letter of the 5th instant, to which I should have returned an immediate answer, had I not waited for some public papers, which you wrote were to be handed to me by the Farmer's brother, and other chiefs, who were to wait upon me, to receive my advice on business of importance. They have, however, as yet never made their appearance at this post.
I think it but proper to give you this explanation of my not having sooner replied to your letter; but, as there is no document, which places you in any other light than a private agent, I cannot enter on any discussion of a public nature. Whenever any of the chiefs of the Seneca, or others of the Six Nations, apply to me for counsel, I shall give them such advice as I conceive best suits with the present state of affairs. As to that part of your letter, which requests to be permitted to freight one of the vessels on lake Erie to carry you, and such Indians as may be inclined to accompany you, to Sandusky, on the west side of the lake, I beg leave to inform you that I am not authorized to comply with your requests. I am, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
A. GORDON. COLONEL PROCTER.
That thus failing in obtaining a vessel, the object of his mission also failed, and he returned to Philadelphia, after having exerted himself honorably to proceed forward.
His report is lengthy and minute, according to his instructions.
Narrative of Colonel Thomas Procter.'
(April, 1791.) 27th.—We arrived at Buffalo creek, having travelled through a country of exceeding rich land, from our last encampment, the extent of which I had not been able to ascertain.
American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 155.
The pre-emptive right to this valuable country was vested in the State of Massachusetts, but at present the property of the Hon. Robert Morris, of the city of Philadelphia, by a late purchase. The principal village of Buffalo belongs to the Seneca nation, and in it the young king, the Farmer's brother, resides, as also Red Jacket, the great speaker, and prince of the Turtle tribe. On my entering the town, there were numbers of Indians collected at the hut where we alighted from our horses, and on taking a general view of them, I found that they were far better clothed than those Indians were in the towns at a greater distance, owing entirely to the immediate intercourse they have with the British, being but about thirty-five miles distance from Niagara, and but six miles from fort Erie, situate on the north side of the lake; from which places they are supplied yearly with almost every necessary they require, so much so as to make them indifferent in their huntings. And the chiefs, who are poor in general, have to look up to them for almost their daily subsistence, not only of provisions, but for apparel: for the Farmer's Brother, the Young King, was fully regimented as a colonel, red faced with blue, as belonging to some royal regiment, and equipped with a pair of the best epauletts. So that, from his after conduct, it may not appear extraordinary, where the king has thrown in his opposition to my errand, he being paid so well for his influence over the Indian nations as to carry his favorite point in question. I had not been long in the village before I was invited to the great council house, with my companion, attended by Red Jacket, O'Beel, and other chiefs. Just as we approached the porch of the council house, they had a two pounder swivel gun, which they had loaded very high, having put into her an uncommon charge, which the acting gunner being sensible of, stood within the door, and fired it from the end of a long stick, which he passed between the logs; which being done, the explosion upset the gun and its fixture. This, they said, was done as a treat for our safe arrival through the dangers that we had encountered, and for which they were thankful to the Great Keeper. The speech, as an introduction, given by Red Jacket being ended, he came forward to me to the seat I had been ushered to in the centre of the council, and presented me with four strings of wampum, which he had held in his hands while speaking; for the particulars of which see another page. Capt. O'Beel having been particularly named by Red Jacket, he rose and returned the compliment, in behalf of us that were strangers. Being at this time just sun setting, I apprised the council, through my interpreter, that I had messages from General Washington, the great chief of the Thirteen Fires, which were particularly addressed to the notice of the Six Nations, the representatives of which nations I presumed were principally present; but, as it was drawing late, I requested leave to postpone the introduction till the morning, which was consented to. Upon this, Red Jacket rose to remark, that many persons had occasionally come into their country, who said that they had also come in by the authority of the Thirteen Fires, but of the truth of which they were not always convinced. This information opened the door that I expected; being informed by a French gentleman, a trader amongst them, that these sentiments had fallen from Colonels Brandt and Butler, about seven days previous to our arrival at this place, who desired of the chiefs, in private council, to pay no attention to what should be said to them by me; and, as they knew the purport of my mission, from the chiefs whom I had held council with at the Genesee river, the Colonels advised them not to assist me in going to the Miamies, as the consequence would be fatal to those that should attend me, and consequent death to me and my companion. From these suggestions, which had fallen from Red Jacket, I mentioned, in open council, that I was desirous that they might call forward any gentleman of veracity, whom they had confidence in, to be present while I should deliver myself to them, and overlook any writings that I was directed to lay before the Six Nations, as by that means proof would be made that my commission was founded on the authority of the United States of America. They then agreed upon sending for the commanding officer of fort Erie, and despatched a runner for the purpose. Soon after the council broke up Captain John, of the Onandagos, came to my hut, and informed me, in private conversation, that no scruple was made of the authority I came under to them, being well informed by the chiefs of the Genesee, who had given that information some considerable time before my reaching Buffalo. Captain John, from his manners, appeared to be a man of veracity, and had received a Mohawk education, and understood himself very well, and during my stay at Buffalo attached himself to me in person, and promoted, all that lay in his power, the business that I had before the council. But the reasons, he said, they were so particular with me, was on account of a certain William Ewing, a resident from the Connedesago lake, who had come in behalf of the Hon. Robert Morris, whom he called the second greatest man in the Union; that he had convened a council the day previous to my arrival, informing those of the Six Nations present, that the pre-emptive right to the lands in this country, as belonging to the State of Massachusetts, were now the property of the said Robert Morris, whensoever the Six Nations of Indians were disposed to sell any part of the same; that, the better to authenticate this business that he had to perform, he produced his instructions, under the hands and seals of the Hon. Robert Morris and the Hon. — Ogden, both of the State of Pennsylvania, adding, that the chain of friendship now stretched between the said gentlemen and the Six Nations, the centre of which was to be supported by him; that in consequence thereof, he desired their permission to traverse the several courses of the lands granted by their agent,-Livingston, of New York, to the said State of Massachusetts.
28th.—The council being convened within the house, there appeared to be about one hundred and fifty in number. Mr. Ewing began to open and continue his business, which he had introduced the day before; upon which, I rose to inform him that he must desist from going on any further, as it was an interference with my mission, that was of the utmost consequence to the United States, and to the Indian nations in general; and that, as soon as the same was completed, agreeable to the purport of my coming here, that then I would lend him such assistance as was in my power, and through which I would evidence my respect for the gentlemen who sent him.
The commanding officer of fort Erie sent word to the council this morning, that he could not leave his garrison without the express permission of the commandant of Niagara, (Col. Gordon) but that he had sent Captain Powell, of the Indian Department, as a suitable person to superintend their business.
As a proper introduction to my mission, and by the consent and desire of O'Beel, I began by reading his address to the Governor and Council of the State of Pennsylvania, as also his several letters to the President of the United States, and his Excellency's answer to them, in order, and a third letter to the same, from the Secretary of War. The reading of these several papers, and the deed from his Excellency, the President, for the restoration of their lands in the Six Nations, and the interpreting the same, took up the whole of the day, upon which I concluded to adjourn till to-morrow, leaving them to digest what had been said, and to judge of the great attention that had been paid to them by the Great Chief of the Thirteen Fires. I thought it proper to give the invitation to Captain Powell, to take up his abode at my hut for the night, which he very willingly accepted of. After we had taken a little refreshment, we entered into a general conversation, and spoke on many matters, the consequences of the late war. The captain, being free in conversation, gave me to understand, that Colonels Butler and Brandt, himself, and several other officers from Niagara and fort Erie, had been at Buffalo some time, waiting my coming, as they had advice that I was on the way hither; that while there, Brandt received private instructions, from head quarters, to set out for the Grand river, and from thence to Detroit. This business, Captain Powell judged, was to carry instructions of some kind to the Indians, at war with the United States. It had the appearance of truth, from what had fallen from the lips of Butler and Brandt, some days since, with the chiefs of the Onandagos and Senecas, as it had the tendency of their joint advice, when they spoke in the great council, viz: that they should not determine on any matter of consequence with me without their concurrence. These injunctions being laid upon them, (as I received it from
informant) the British officers retired to their different posts.
Friday, April 29th.—The business which I postponed yesterday, I opened in a much larger council than had appeared before; and, after I had read the Secretary of War's message by me to the Six Nations, I continued to read those also directed to the Delawares, Wyandots, the Miamies, and the Indians inhabiting the Wabash; and closed the whole with an address to them, clearly explaining the greatness and power of the United States, and of their trade and commerce; as also of their being at peace and amity with many of the powerful nations of Europe: and though we were once angry with Great Britain, with whom we had fought for eight returning seasons, and having compelled them by force and arms to quit our country, the red hatchet between them and the United States was buried deep under the earth.
I also went into and explained the treaty, held at New York, between his Excellency the President, and Colonel McGillivray,