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Letter from the Commissioners for Indian Affairs to the President of Congress



Albany, December 14, 1775.

SIR: Conscious that it is a duty we owe our respectable constituents and ourselves, not to permit any doubts or suspicions to exist, relative to or concerning any transactions of ours, when it is in our power to eradicate them; and reports prevailing, that what Tiahogwando, the Onondaga chief, delivered at the conference held here in the months of August and September last, respecting the Susquehannah lands, now unhappily in controversy between the Colonies of Pennsylvania and Connecticut, was not in consequence either of directions from his particular nation,


or the result of the united councils of the Six Nations, we unanimously resolved to enter into an inquiry. Accordingly we sent for Messrs˙ Deane and Kirkland, who agreed in the following information, viz: That immediately after Tiahogwando had delivered his speech, a murmur ran through the assembly as at a matter not only unexpected but improper; and that some of the sachems, after the rising of the assembly, spoke to them on the subject, expressing their astonishment at such a speech, of which no notice had been given to the Six Nations.

Mr˙ Fulmer, another interpreter, was then called before us; and as, in the information which he gave, Colonel Francis' s name was mentioned, we thought proper to take his deposition and enclose it.

After Fulmer' s information, we were of opinion that the sachems should be convened, that we might confer with them on the occasion. Accordingly, Tiahogwando, with another Onondaga sachem, and two from each of the other nations now in town, were convened; at which meeting were also present, Messrs˙ Deane, Kirkland, Bleeker, and Fulmer, interpreters. The Indians being made acquainted with the business of the meeting, Tiahogwando, the Onondaga sachem, gave the following information: That coming from the meeting preceding that in which the Susquehannah lands were mentioned, Colonel Francis took him by the hand, and informed him that all the other sachems had been to see him, and asked why he did not come and smoke a pipe with him; and invited him to his room in the evening, that he had something to say to him. The sachem replied, it was not the custom of Indians to come alone on such an occasion, and that he would therefore bring one or two along with him. Two accordingly came with him in the evening. After they had drank a little, and began to be intoxicated, Colonel Francis informed them that Governour Penn had directed him to make inquiry about the sale of the Susquehannah lands. Upon which, Tiahogwando then related what he (being a lad) had heard Dinasteego inform his father, being in substance the same as he had delivered in his speech. He observed that he was sorry the white people deceived the Indians, by giving them liquor, to make them say things they ought not; and that what he had said was not in consequence of any directions he had either from his nation or the Six Nations,

Tiahogwando further says, that Colonel Francis promised to give the sachems of the Six Nations something, provided he would deliver it at the close of the business of the next meeting, and not mention his name — meaning Colonel Francis. This chief then observed to us, that the white people have a medicine (meaning liquors) which would make Indians bring out all that is in their minds.

We hope, sir, that in making this inquiry, we have not gone beyond the line of our duty. Our only motives for prosecuting this inquiry, we have taken the liberty to give Congress in the former part of this Letter,

We remain, sir, with sentiments of respect and esteem, yours, &c˙, &c˙,


The Honourable John Hancock, Esq.