Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

peace from

nate suffering and injury, until both were heartily weary of the war,certain artful proposals, artfully set forth by Jesuit messengers, were at length so well received by all the confederates excepting the Mohawks, that a council was summoned at Onondaga to act upon them. The English were civilly invited to attend, and although both they and the Mohawks neglected to do so, no measures were adopted in council except with the understanding that they should not be final without being first submitted to the examination of both these parties. With this view several sachems were sent to Albany, and of these Decanesora was the principal and the speaker. The account which he gave to Major Schuyler and the Albany magistrates, of the negotiation now pending, including its origin, is a fine specimen, as Mr. Colden observes, of his art, not only in smoothing over an affair undertaken against the English interest and advice, but also in introducing and enforcing his own views of the sovereign dignity of the Five Nations.

“ Brother Cayenguirago,"* he began, “we are come to acquaint you that our children, the Oneidas, having of themselves sent a mes. senger to Canada, he has brought back with him a belt of the governor.

“ As soon as Tariha (the messenger) arrived at Canada, he was asked where the six hundred men were that were to attack Canada, as they had been informed by Cariokese, a Mohawk deserter. He assured them there was no such design.

“ He was carried to Quebec, where he delivered his belt, with the following proposition: Yonondio, if you would have peace, go to Albany and ask it there, for the Five Nations will do nothing without Cavenguirago.' The Governor of Canada was angry at this, and said he had nothing to do with the Governor of New York; he would treat only with the Five Nations; the peace between the Christians must be made on the other side the great lake. He added, he was sorry to see the Five Nations so far degenerated as to take a sixth nation into their chain to rule over them. If you had desired me to come and treat in any of your castles, I would have done it; but to tell me I must go to Albany, is to desire of me what I can by no means do. You have done very ill to suffer the people of New York to govern you so far that you dare do nothing without their consent. 1 advise you to send two of each nation to me, and let Decanesora be one of them. I have orders from the king my master to grant you peace,

if you come in your proper persons to ask it.' The Governor of Canada afterwards said,

66. Children of the Five Nations, I have compassion for your little children, therefore come speedily and speak of peace to me, otherwise I'll stop my ears for the future: by all means let Decanesora come, for if the Mohawks come alone I will not hear them, --some of all the

* An Indian appellation signifying a swift arrow, given to Governor Fletcher in consequence of the prompt succor he had once rendered the Five Nations in an emergency occasioned by a French invasion. Schuyler is addressed as representing the governor.

Five Nations must come. Now, Tariha, return home, and tell the Five Nations that I will wait for their coming till the trees bud, and the bark can be parted from the trees. I design for France in the spring, and I leave a gentleman to command here, to whom I have given orders to raise soldiers if you do not come in that time, and then what will become of you? I am truly grieved to see the Five Nations so debauched and deceived by Cayenguirago, who is lately come to New York, and by Quider. Formerly the chief men of the Five Nations used to converse with me, but this Governor of New York has so deluded you that you hearken to none but him; but take care of what will follow if you hearken to none but him.''

Here the orator took occasion to explain, very shrewdly, why the deputation to which he belonged had been delayed so long, with some other matters of the same kind. He then reported the following resolutions, agreed upon by the council to be sent to the Governor of Canada. They were probably his own composition, the council having been called and the whole transaction in a great measure managed by himself.

1. “ Yonondio! You have sent for me often, and as often asked why I am afraid to come? The great kettle of war that you have hung over the fire is the reason of it.” Here Decanesora said he was to lay down a belt, and ask the governor's consent to the other two which he held in his hand."

2. “We now not only throw down the kettle, and thereby throw the boiling water out of it, but likewise break it to pieces, that it may never be hung up again—by this second belt.

3. “ Hearken, Yonondio! You are sent from the French king, your master. So is Cayenguirago from the great King and Queen of England. What I am now about to speak to you is by inspiration from the Great Spirit. You say that you will have nothing to do with our brethren of Cayenguirago. But I must tell you that we are inseparable. We can have no peace with you so long as you are at war with them,”—which, added Decanosora, is to be confirmed by the third belt.

The noble fidelity to engagements, here set forth as a sacred prina ciple, was far from being the result of either fear or mere affection; and this Schuyler himself had the opportunity of testing before tho deputation left Albany:

7. “ The Governor of Canada's words, and the resolutions of the Five Nations,” said the orator, in conclusion, “are now before you, Consult, therefore, what is to be done. If it be necessary for the brethren to go to our castle to advise us further, be not unwilling.” Here he laid down a large belt, eleven rows deep, and seven fathoms of wampum. This signified an amicable disposition; but when on the ensuing day Major Schuyler replied that he would consent to no treaty with the French, and proposed that the deputation, and Decanesora in particular, should visit him again at the end of seventy days, the rejoinder was, after consultation, that they should visit him. « But as for myself, said the old sachem, “ I cannot dispose of myself with

1

[ocr errors]

out their directions. If they order me, I shall willingly return.

We did not expect to hear such positive prohibition of keeping any correspondence with the French. If any mischief happen within the seventy days, let us not blame one another. Consider again what is most for the public good, and let it be spoken before we part.”

This was confirmed with a large belt of fourteen deep. Major Schuyler afterwards asked, a second time, whether they would wholly suspend correspondence with the French for the term last mentioned. “I have no authority,” said the orator, “to answer this question. I shall lay the belt down in every one of the castles, and say that by it all correspondence is desired to stop with the French. I cannot promise that this will be complied with.”

The conference did not end here. On the 6th day Schuyler called the deputation together for the purpose of making a new and vigorous effort. How much influence his assertions or argument alone might have had, cannot be determined, for a fortunate incident occurred which materially altered the aspect of affairs, being just in season to enable him to carry his point for the time. The stipulation attached to Decanesora's final consent does him high honor. “ You have at last shut up the way to Canada,” he said, “but we have one thing to ask, after mature deliberation, which we expect will not be refused

The major observed that every thing should be granted which he thought essential to the character or the security of the nation. He then proceeded to request that an English messenger might be permitted to accompany one to be sent by himself to the Praying Indians in Canada. The objects were, first, to inform those Indians of what he had ascertained to be the true character of the Jesuit who had been among the Five Nations; secondly, to notify them of the meeting appointed at Albany, and of the consequent inability of the deputies to visit them at the same time, as had been proposed; and thirdly, to agree upon a continued cessation of arms until they might be able to visit them. Decanesora further desired, that if Schuyler should not send a messenger, he would at all events put these propositions in writing, as a token of his assent to them.

After all, events took place, owing in no small degree, as we shall find, to the English themselves, which determined the chieftains to visit the Canadian governor in the spring. Some explanation of these events is furnished by the following speech of Sadekanatie. He, with his fellow deputies, visited Governor Fletcher at Albany, in May, 1694, and in the course of the conference which ensued, delivered his sentiments in the following manly and forcible style:

“ Brother Cayenguirago! Some of our sachems agreed last winter that we should keep no correspondence with the French. We consess we have broken that promise. We have received a messenger from Canada. We have sent our deputies to Canada in return, (Decanesora being one.) The belt is not yet arrived by which we are to acknowledge our fault in the matter. The reason of our doing it is truly this, we are afraid of the enemy.

“When a messenger came last year from Canada to Onondaga,

1

our brother Cayenguirago discharged our meeting in general council at Onondaga to consult on that message, and ordered us to hold our general council here at Albany on that affair. The privilege of meeting in general council when we please is a privilege we always have enjoyed; no former governor of the name of Corlear ever obstructed this privilege. We planted a tree of peace in this place with them. Its roots and branches extend as far as Virginia and New England, and we have reposed with pleasure under its shade. Brother, let us keep to that first tree, and let us be united and unanimous; such prohibition of our assemblies will be of ill consequence, and occasion differences between us.

“We acknowledge, I say, our sending agents to Canada for peace. We were encouraged in doing this by the knowledge we have of the Governor of Canada. He is an old man, and was formerly governor of that place. He was always esteemed a wise, peaceable man, and therefore we trust our message will have a good issue. We did not take it amiss that you sent to the Dewagunhas, nor that Amout was sent to the Satanas, both of them our enemies; and for the same reason our brother Cayenguirago ought not to be displeased with our sending to the French for peace,

“We, Onondagas, acknowledge ourselves to have been fie chief promoters of this message. We have sent in all nine sachems with nine belts. It is true we are now under much uneasiness in having trusted so many sachems in the French hands, being almost half the number we have in our nation, but we were in haste to prevent the designs the French had against our country and yours by the great warlike preparations they were making in Canada.”

Ile concluded with specifying the instructions their deputies had received, and presented a belt in confirmation of all he had said. Colonel Fletcher replied, that he would not discuss any other subject until he was satisfied what reason there was for charging him with having forbidden the council, and made peace with the Indian tribes, as alleged by the orator. This appears to have been a mistake, and accordingly, on the ensuing day, it was frankly acknowledged to be such, and that in terms which left no occasion to doubt the speaker's sincerity. “We assure you,” he said, “we will never separate from you. We still have one head, one blood, one soul, one heart with you.” This was said in reference to the alleged prohibition of the council. “ As to the Dewagunhas and Shawanons,” added the speaker, “we are confident Cayenguirago will not admit them into his government till they have made peace with us. That we shall willingly grant. When our enemies are humbled and beg peace, why should they not have it? Let them come and live with us. It will strengthen our country.” He then proceeded thus:

“ Brother Cayenguirago! When the Christians first arrived in this * A Roman principle, recognised in the practice as well as theory of the Five Nations. Colden says, " they encourage the people of other nations (including captives) to incorporate with them.” Thus, for example, the sixth nation was added to the confederacy in 1712.

[ocr errors]

country, we received them kindly. When they were but a small
people, we entered into a league with them to guard them from all
enemies whatsoever. We were so fond of their society, that we tied
the great canoe which brought them, not with a rope made of bark
to a tree, but with a strong iron chain fastened to a great mountain.
Now, before the Christians arrived, the general council of the Five Na-
tions was held at Onondaga, where there has been from the beginning
a continual fire kept burning; it is built of two great logs whose flame
never extinguishes. As soon as the hatchet-makers (their general
name for Christians) arrived, the general council at Onondaga planted
this tree at Albany, whose roots and branches have since spread as
far as New England, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Vir..
ginia, and under the shade of this tree all these English colonies have
frequently been sheltered."

Here the orator gave seven sathoms of wampum to renew the chain,
and promised, as he declared his expectation of receiving, mutual
assistance in case of an attack from any enemy.

“ The only reason, to be plain with you," he continued, “of our sending to make peace with the French, is the low condition to which we are reduced, while none of our neighbors send us the least assistance, so that the whole burthen of the war lies on us alone. Our brethren of New England, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, of their own accord thrust their arms into our chain, but since the war began we have received no assistance from them. We alone cannot continue the war against the French, by reason of the recruits they daily receive from the other side the great lake.

- Brother Cayenguirago! Speak from your heart. Are you resolved to prosecute the war vigorously against the French, and are your neighbors of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New England resolved to assist us? If it be so, notwithstanding any treaty hitherto entered into, we will prosecute the war as hotly as ever. But if our neighbors will not assist, we must make peace, and we submit it to your consideration, by giving this great belt fifteen deep.

** Brother Cayenguirago! I have truly told you the reasons which have induced us to offer peace to the French; we shall likewise, from the bottom of our hearts, inform you of the design we have in this treaty. When the Governor of Canada shall have accepted the nine belts, of which I have just now told you, then we shall have something more to say by two large belts, which lie still hid in our bosoms. We shall lay down the first one and say, “we have a brother Cayenguirago, with whose people we have been united in one chain from the beginning They must be included in this treaty; we cannot see them involved in bloody war while we sit in easy peace.' If the Governor of Canada answer that he has made a separate peace with us, and that he cannot make any peace with Cayenguirago because the war is from over the great lake, then we shall lay down the second great broad belt, and tell the Governor of Canada, if you will not include Cayenguirago's people, the treaty will become thereby void

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »