History - Its origin - Causes of its development - Its Influence on a free government - Divisions of History in point of time - Divisions in regard to subject - General History - Particular History - History of Delaware county; a particular History - Early purchases made of the Indians - Their dissatisfaction - Deed of purchase of 1768 - Extent of the purchase - Consideration paid - Effects produced by the final adjustment of Indian claims - Commencement of emigration.
History with the more and more extensive meaning acquired by the advancement of civilization, by the diffusion of education, and by the elevation of the standard of human liberty, has expanded into a grand and beautiful science. It treats of man in all his social relations, whether civil, religious, or literary, in which he has had intercourse with his fellows. The study of history, to a free government like the one in which we live, is an indispensable requisite to the improvement and elevation of the human race. It leads us back through the ages that have succeeded each other in time past; it exhibits the condition of the human race at each respective period, and by following down its pages over the vast empires and mighty cities now engulphed in oblivion, but which the faithful historian presents in a living light before us, we are enabled profitably to compare and form a more correct appreciation of our own relative position.
It is the saying of an eminent historian that "Liberty and History go hand in hand, the health and vigor of the one dependent upon and coexistent with that of the other." And it is certain that the more enlightened and free a people become, the more the government devolves upon themselves; and hence the necessity of a careful study of history, which by showing the height to which man as an intellectual being is capable of elevating himself in the scale of usefulness and moral worth, teaches that the virtues of the good man are held in sacred emulation by his countrymen for ages succeeding, long after the scythe of time has gathered the earthly remains of the actor to the silent grave. Such thoughts, or rather such reflections as these, inspire within the human bosom an ardent desire to attain that which is good and shun that which is evil, an honest and laudable ambition to become both great and good; or as another has beautifully written, "Great only as we are good." To illustrate more fully, Who would not be a Washington# whose names and virtues are virtually associated with those eventful times, that chaos of the last century, from which sprung what was afterward destined to become the mightiest republic on the globe; "it was the hand of Washington that lit the flame," that flame which baffled the skill and prowess of the engines of the old world to extinguish, and which for seventy-nine years has spread as with a magic wand, North, East, South, and West--spreading and burning still; while kings and haughty monarchs pause, behold and tremble, as they sit upon their tottering thrones, lest a burning spark from the unquenchable fire of freedom should strike root in the stronghold of their own despotism, and deprive them of their titles and their power. One of the great benefits of history to our own Government is by studiously comparing other modes of rule with our own; the defects of both become visible, and we are enabled thereby to profit by all former times.
The history of the world is divided into three great divisions; Ancient History, from the creation of the world to the Christian era, the Advent of Christ; the History of the Middle Ages, extending to the discovery of America by Columbus, in 1492; and Modern History, which comes down to and embraces the present time. The history of the United States and of the whole Western hemisphere, is embraced within the sphere of modern history. With regard to the subject, history is either general, where a whole nation is treated of, or particular, where a sub-division of the same government is assumed as the basis of a history. Thus, the history of the United States would be general, while that of the State of New York would be particular; and as such, would contain much matter relating to her alone, of the utmost interest and importance; which in the general history, would be put down as improper and out of place. To say that the legislature of the State of New York in 1855, passed the Maine law, with attendant circumstances of its execution, would, I venture to say, be as much out of place in the general history, as one of the Black Foot Indians of Kansas territory would be in the halls of Congress at Washington.
The territory then which we have chosen as the basis of this history, characterizes it as one of the particular kind; and while at the commencement we exhort those into whose hands it may fall, who are perhaps better informed than ourselves, not to be too particular in their criticisms, we shall at the same time strive to be particularly correct in all our assertions, nor leave any stone unturned, that will add any thing of interest to those who may read its contents.
The American Indians were the original proprietors of the soil. At the discovery of America by Columbus in 1492, the entire American continent was the birthright, and by the universal law of nations, the property of the Indian. The whites then were eminently intruders in founding settlements upon the shores of the western world; but the policy of aggrandizement which characterized the maritime powers of Europe, recognized no other law than "might makes right," and consequently had no conscientious scruples against the acquisition of territory, even by an offensive and unjust war. It was the Spaniards in particular, who have left an indelible stain upon their national character, by their ignominious and cruel warfare waged against the Montezumas of Mexico, and the Incas of Peru. The English, although far from being guiltless, nevertheless pursued for themselves a more judicious, and at the same time a more humane policy. They opened a successful commerce with the Indians - they attempted to introduce some of the arts of civilization from Europe, and all the vices, especially that glaring monster, intemperance, which sounded the death knell to so many of the "tall trees" of their race. This evil increased with such fearful rapidity, that the Indians at last themselves became startled, and knowing their utter inability to withstand the temptation, demanded of the whites what the whites now demand for themselves1, that no liquor should be brought amongst them. The following speech was delivered by the great Chief Hendrick, at the Congress held at Albany in 1754, of which Benjamin Franklin was a member:
"'Brethern--There is an Affair about which our Hearts tremble and our minds are deeply concerned; this is the selling of Rum in our Castles. It destroys many of our Old and Young people. We request of all the Governments here present, that it may be forbidden to carry any of it amongst the Five Nations."'Brethern--We are in great Fears about this Rum. It may cause murder on both sides."'The Cayugas now declare in their own name, that they will not allow any Rum to be brought up their River, and those who do must suffer the Consequences."'We, the Mohawks of both Castles have also one request to make, which is, that the people who are settled round about us, may not be Suffered to sell our People Rum. It keeps them all poor, makes them Idle and Wicked, and if they have any Money or Goods, they lay it all out in Rum. It destroys Virtue and the progress of Religion amongst us. (The lower Castle of the Mohawks has a Chapel and English Missionary belonging to it.) We have a friendly request to make to the Governor and all the Commissioners here present-- that they will help us to Build a Church at Canajoharie, and that we may have a bell in it, which, together with the putting a stop to the Selling of Rum, will tend to make us Religious and lead better lives than we do now.'"
The English early adopted a plan of purchasing by treaty the territory of the Indians, and as early as 1683, the sachems of the Cayugas and Onondagas, to whom the Susquehanna country belonged, executed an instrument, sealed in the presence of Robert Livingston, conveying said territory to the English government.
These conveyances gave rise to unexpected difficulties; the white settlers were continually overstepping the prescribed limits of the purchase, and trespassing upon the hunting grounds of the aborigines. The Indians were continual in their complaint to the authorities having jurisdiction in the matter, and at last to avert an open rupture between the Six Nations and the Colonies, Sir William Johnson, then Commissionary of Indian Affairs, convened the Six Nations and all the tribes that pretended any claim to the territory in question, at Fort Stanwix.
The result of this convention was the formation of a treaty, or rather an agreement to a separating line between the whites and Indians. This document is one those relics of our dealings with an injured and almost extinct race of people, and for the curiosity of the reader we insert the instrument in full.
"Deed executed at Fort Stanwix, Nov. 5th, 1768.
"To all to whom these presents shall come or may concern. We, the Sachems and Chiefs of the Six Confederate Nations, and of the Shawanese, Delawares, Mingoes of Ohio, and other dependent Tribes, on behalf of ourselves and of the rest of our several Nations, the Chiefs and Warriors of whom are here now convened, by Sir William Johnson, Baronet, His Majesty's Superintendent of our affairs, send greeting:--- Whereas his Majesty was graciously pleased to propose to us, in the year one thousand seven hundred and sixty-five, that a boundary line should be established between the English and us, to ascertain and establish our limits, and prevent those intrusions and encroachments of which we had so long and loudly complained, and to put a stop to the many fraudulent advantages which had been so often taken of us in land affairs; which boundary appearing to us a wise and good measure, we did then agree to a part of a line, and promised to settle the whole final, whensoever Sir William Johnson should be fully empowered to treat with us for that purpose. And whereas his said Majesty has at length given Sir William Johnson orders to complete the said boundary line between the Provinces and Indians, in conformity to which orders, Sir William Johnson has convened the Chiefs and Warriors of our respective Nations, who are the true and absolute Proprietors of the lands in question, and who are here now to a very considerable number. And whereas many uneasinesses and doubts have arisen amongst us, which have given rise to an apprehension that the line may not be strictly observed on the part of the English, in which case matters may be worse than before; which apprehension, together with the dependent state of some of our tribes, and other circumstances which retarded the settlement and became the subject of some debate, which Sir William Johnson has at length so far satisfied us upon, as to induce us to come to an agreement concerning the line, which is now brought to conclusion; the whole being fully explained to us in a large assembly of our people before Sir William Johnson, and in the presence of His Excellency, the Governor of New Jersey, the Commissioners from the Provinces of Virginia and Pennsylvania, and sundry other Gentlemen, by which line so agreed upon, a considerable tract of country along several provinces is by us ceded to his said Majesty, which we are induced to and do hereby ratify and confirm to his said Majesty, from the expectation and confidence we place in His Royal Goodness, that he will graciously comply with our humble requests, as the same are expressed in the speech of the several Nations, addressed to His Majesty through Sir William Johnson, on Tuesday, the first of the present month of November, wherein we have declared our expectation of continuance of his Majesty's favour, and our desire that our ancient engagements be observed, and our affairs attended to by the officer who has the management thereof, enabling him to discharge all these matters properly for our interest. That the lands occupied by the Mohocks around their villages, as well as by any other nation affected by this our cession, may effectually remain to them and to their posterity; and that any engagements regarding property, which they may now be under, may be prosecuted, and our present grants deemed valid on our parts, with the several other humble requests contained in our said speech. And whereas, at the settling of the said Line, it appeared that the Line described by His Majesty's permission, was not extended to the Northward of Oswegy, or to the Southward of the Great Kanhawa river, we have agreed to and continued the Line to the Northward, on a supposition that it was omitted by reason of our not having come to any determination concerning its course, at the congress held in one thousand seven hundred and sixty-five; and in as much as the Line to the Northward became the most necessary of any, for preventing encroachments at our very Towns and Residences, we have given the Line more favorably to Pennsylvania, for the reasons and considerations mentioned in the Treaty; we have likewise continued it South to Cherokee River, because the same is and we declare it to be our true Bounds with the Southern Indians, and that we have an undoubted right to the country as far South as that River, which makes the cession to His Majesty much more advantageous than that proposed. Now therefore know ye, that we, the Sachems and Chiefs aforementioned, Native Indians or Proprietors of the Lands hereinafter described, for and in behalf of ourselves and the whole of our Confederacy, for the considerations hereinbefore mentioned, and also for and in consideration of a valuable present of the several articles in use amongst Indians, which, together with a large sum of money, amount in the whole to the sum of ten thousand four hundred and sixty pounds seven shillings and three pence sterling, to us now delivered and paid by Sir William Johnson, Baronet, His Majesty's sole Agent and Superintendant of Indian Affairs for the Northern Department of America, in the name and on behalf of our Sovereign Lord, George the Third, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, the receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledge, we, the said Indians, have for us and our heirs and successors, granted, bargained, sold, released and confirmed, and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, release and confirm unto our said Sovereign Lord, King George the Third, all that Tract of Land situate in North America, at the Back of the British Settlements, bounded by a Line which we have now agreed upon and do hereby establish, as the Boundary between us and the British Colonies in America, beginning at the mouth of Cherokee or Hogohege, where it empties into the River Ohio, and running from thence upwards along the South side of said River to Kittanning, which is above Fort Pitt, from thence by a direct line to the nearest Fork of the West Branch of Susquehanna, thence through the Allegany Mountains along the South Side of the said West Branch, until it comes opposite to the mouth of a creek called Tiadaghton, thence from the West Branch along the South side of that Creek, and along the North side of Burnett's Hills to a creek called Awandae, thence down the same to the East Branch of the Susquehanna, and across the same and up the East side of that River to Oswegy, from thence East to Delaware River, and up that River to opposite where Tianaderha falls into the Susquehanna, thence to Tianaderha and up the West side of the West Branch to the head thereof, and thence by a direct line to Canada Creek, where it empties into the Wood Creek, at the West of the Carrying Place beyond Fort Stanwix, and extending Eastward from every part of the said Line as far as the Lands formerly purchased, so as to comprehend the whole of the lands between the said Line and the purchased lands or settlements, except what is within the Province of Pennsylvania, together with all the hereditaments and appurtenances to the same belonging or appertaining, in the fullest and most ample manner, and all the estate, right, title, interest, property, possession, benefit, claim and demand, either in law or equity, of each and every of us, of, in or to the same, or any part thereof, To have and to hold the whole lands and premises hereby granted, bargained, sold, released, and confirmed as aforesaid, with the hereditaments and appurtenances thereunto belonging, under the reservations made in the Treaty unto our said Sovereign Lord, King George the Third, his heirs and successors, to and for his and their own proper use and behoof for ever. In witness whereof, we, the Chiefs of the Confederacy, have hereunto set our marks and seals, at Fort Stanwix, the fifth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-eight, in the ninth year of His Majesty's reign.
For the Mohawks. TYORHANSERE ALS ABRAHAM, (L.S.) For the Oneidas. CANAGHAGUIESON, (L.S.) For the Tuscaroras. SEGUAREESERA, (L.S.) For the Onondagas. OTSINOGHIYATA ALS BUNT, (L.S.) For the Cayugas. TEGAAIA, (L.S.) For the Senecas. GUARTOAX, (L.S.) Sealed and delivered and the consideration paid in the presence of Wm. Franklin, Governor of New Jersey. Fre. Smyth, Chief Justice of New Jersey. Thomas Walker, Commissioner for Virginia. Richard Peters,}Of the Council of James Tilghman,} Pennsylvania."
The territory ceded by this treaty to the English crown, was far more extensive than was then known or supposed. The western line of the present county of Delaware, was the exact limits of the treaty--that county being ceded to the English--while Broome and Chenango, still farther westward, remained in possession of the Six Nations or their dependencies. The consideration paid for this extensive territory, now so valuable in agricultural and mineral resources, was ten thousand four hundred and sixty pounds sterling or about fifty thousand six hundred dollars.
The honorable and friendly adjustment of the existing difficulties by the Stanwix Treaty, restored the confidence which had been so severely tested by the lawless and inhuman depredations which had been of frequent occurrence for a term of years preceding upon the settlers and their property, for infringements, whether real or imaginary, upon the territory claimed by the Indians.
About the period of 1770, the tide of emigration may be said to have fairly commenced. The two years of uninterrupted peace that had preceded, strengthened by the glittering allurements of the future, had succeeded in burying the inclemency and sufferings of the past in oblivion. The hardy settlers, accompanied by their wives and children, together with the rude accoutrements of civilization, were seen penetrating the wilderness in every direction; and not twenty years elapsed from the time the first settler crossed the North river in the bark canoe, and followed the Indian trial to some desirable location for himself and his family a home--although the scenes of the Revolution are numbered within that period--ere the whole surface of the territory, from the majestic Hudson to those great inland seas, was dotted by innumerable clearings--the homes of honest, industrious, and daring pioneers; where, by dint of hard labor and economy, in most instances, they succeeded in obtaining a comfortable support for themselves and families.
The gigantic forests which had flourished in their majesty and grandeur from age to age, now faded away before the woodman's axe, as the mist of night vanishes at the first rays of the morning sun, and the earth was made to yield from bounteous stores to contribute to the sustenance and support of man. The wild beasts startled by the strange, uncouth sounds of civilization, or the sharp click and unerring aim of the hunter's rifle, either fell farther back into the forest, or fled precipitately to some unfrequented hiding place among the hills. The Indian, too, chanted the sad requiem over the sacred mounds that contained the ashes of his parents--the sepulchre of his tribe--had sped the last arrow upon his favorite hunting grounds, where his unerring aim had often brought the timid deer to kiss the dust, and retreating westward, "pauses his steps upon the verge of the distant eminence," to supplicate the Great Spirit, and to behold once more and for the last time, the glorious sun-set upon the broad valley, the bright home of his youth; and for ages past the favorite hunting-ground of his tribe.