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Letter from the Rev. Mr. Kirkland to General Schuyler


From the Rev˙ Mr˙ KIRKLAND to General SCHUYLER.

Oneida, March 12, 1776.

SIR: I am sorry to tell you the face of things among the Western Tribes of the Confederacy begins to change, and appears different from what our expectations promised at the last treaty, held in Albany. It is very evident their minds are poisoned by some enemy to the liberties of the Colonies. Such vile and iniquitous sentiments as these are still propogated and prevail among the Western Tribes, viz: "That the white people, particularly the Americans, are in nature treacherous and deceitful; have no true friendship for the Indians; and are not to be depended on for aid and protection. Should they conquer in the present contest, no sooner have they obtained victory but they will turn about and fall upon the Indians."

This, indeed, is no new, but the very same old tune which Colonel Johnson played so long upon, although he confined it chiefly to New-England and Virginia. One might think it would have become threadbare before this time. I am certain I have heard the governing notes, upon the same key, for several years past; but some one, it seems, has lately trumped it up so high, that it sounds very briskly in a savage ear.

Mr˙ Deans has given your Honour, in his letter of yesterday, a general account of what has lately taken place here in a meeting with the Onondagas and Cayugas. The Oneidas, in this affair, manifested an unshaken friendship for the Colonies, and a firm attachment to the Council-fire at Albany. Many of the Indians have observed to me, that they never knew debates so warm, and contention so fierce, to have happened between these two brothers (the Oneidas and Cayugas) since the commencement of their union. The disputes continued will) great spirit for three days, successively, before the Oneidas prevailed.

By Mr˙ Deane' s letter, your Honour will find that a correspondence has been carried on for some time past, and is still continued, between Johnstown and Niagara; and some of the Mohawks become news-carriers and propagators of injurious false reports among the upper nations. The pretended friendship and boasted fidelity of those Mohawks seem to turn out mere delusion and perfidy, at least in the most of them; and no marvel, they have so long been made use of as mere tools of State, and accustomed to such hackneyed service. We cannot expect to find in them even the remains of a principle of honour and virtue.

The Onondaga chiefs informed Mr˙ Deane that one William,


a natural son of the late Sir William, is now at Onondaga, the central Council-House, waiting for the result of the approaching meeting to be held there; that he was sent to said place by Colonel Butler, with orders to return immediately to Niagara, upon the breaking up of the Council. Some of our most judicious and warm friends of the tribe have, in private conversation, expressed their fears of what might take place among the Western Tribes the ensuing spring, by means of Colonel Butler; and give it as their opinion, that your Honour will not be able to preserve, any long time, the union and friendship of the Six Nations, without the reduction of a certain post at the westward. However, they seem to think the result of the Grand Council at Onondaga will determine the expediency of such a measure.

Upon a third request of the Oneidas, in publick council, the Cayugas promised them that they would return, or at least proceed no farther than the German Flats, for some articles of trade; but some of their chiefs, at their departure, said they should go as far as the Mohawks; if not to Albany. Could the Oneidas believe they still persisted in their design of recalling Johnson' s axe, Mr˙ Deane says they would send an express to General Schuyler, earnestly requesting the axe might not be delivered to them on any terms whatever.

There are various conjectures, if Mr˙ Butler can prevail with the Senecas, and some other remote tribes, to take up the hatchet, where it will be sent. Some say, upon the back parts of Virginia; others say at Canada, to open a passage for Mr˙ Johnson' s return. Some of the Mohawks have affirmed that Mr˙ Johnson will return by way of New-York; and if there should be a passage, only two feet, he will beat his way through.

The Oneidas put great confidence in Mr˙ Deane, as your Honour' s Deputy, and admit him into their cabinet councils. Had he not been on the spot at this juncture, to strengthen and encourage the Oneidas, and remove objections, the Cayugas would probably have carried the day; and had they brought back the axe, it is thought our frontiers would have felt it before many months.

The deputation from Caughnawaga and adjacent villages have just now arrived. Mr˙ Deane would have mentioned it, but his letter is sealed. They say they met with some Senecas at the village called Onoskwikisne, about thirty miles south of Caughnawaga, who told them they must proceed directly for the Central Council-fire, and not enter the territories of the Oneidas, for they were Bostonians. The delegation said they would first go to those by whom they were immediately invited, viz: the Oneidas — giving this further reason, that they were of one heart.

A certain paper your Honour committed to my care, when at Albany, cannot be forwarded at present.

Your Honour will be pleased not to disclose Mr˙ Deane' s name or mine to the Indians, as having communicated such intelligence, at this juncture; for it would very much prejudice the Senecas and Cayugas against the Oneidas, as well as weaken our interest among them. A word to the wise is sufficient.

That your Honour may enjoy health, be long preserved, and, under God, be made an extensive blessing to the United Colonies, is the prayer of, sir, your Honour' s most obedient and very humble servant,


To the Honourable Philip Schuyler, Esq.

P˙ S˙ The Caughnawagas bring very favourable accounts of the situation of affairs at Quebeck. Mr˙ Deane has been several hours in council with them, but cannot write anything further by this conveyance.