- Access Genealogy - http://www.accessgenealogy.com -
Joseph Brant, Captain of the Six Nations
Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American,New York,Ohio | No Comments
There are few names in Indian history so conspicuous as that of Thayendanegea, or, as he was more commonly called, Joseph Brant. He was for many years the scourge of the frontier settlements of New York and Pennsylvania, whose inhabitants associated with him, in their excited imaginations, all that was fierce and relentless in the savage character. That they had ample reasons for the dread and hatred connected with his name, is but too well attested by the many deeds of rapine and slaughter which stand inseparably united with it upon the pages of history; and not withstanding the able and benevolent attempt which has recently been made to erase those stains from his memory, it will be difficult for any American ever to look back upon the sanguinary catalogue of his military achievements without a shudder. In the hasty sketch that we shall give, we shall avail ourselves freely of the valuable labors of Mr. Stone, whose voluminous life of that chief, recently published, contains all the facts which are necessary for our purpose, and to whose kindness we are indebted for the use of the admirable portrait from which our engraving was taken. But while we compile the facts from that authentic source, and make the due acknowledgment, candor requires us to say that, differing materially from that ingenious writer, in our estimate of the character of his hero, we must be held solely responsible for so much of this sketch as is merely matter of opinion.
The parents of Brant were Mohawks, residing at the Canajoharie castle, in New York; but he is said to have been born on the banks of the Ohio, in 1742, during an excursion of his parents to that region. He was not a chief by birth, although his family seems to have been one of some consideration; and it is affirmed that he was the grandson of one of the five chiefs who visited England, in 1710, during the reign of Queen Anne.
In his youth, Brant became a favorite and protégé of Sir William Johnson, the most celebrated of all the agents employed by the British government in the management of their Indian affairs; and who, by his talents, his conciliatory manners, and his liberality, enjoyed an unbounded popularity among the native tribes. A well-known circumstance, in the history of this gentleman, is thus related by Mrs. Grant, of Laggan, in her very agreeable “Memoirs of an American Lady.” “Becoming a widower in the prime of life, he connected himself with an Indian maiden, daughter to a sachem, who possessed an uncommonly agreeable person, and good understanding; and whether ever formally married to him according to our usage or not, continued to live with him in great union and affection all his life.” Mary Brant, or, as she was called, Miss Molly, was the person here alluded to. She was the sister of the subject of this notice, and to that union he owed the patronage of Sir William Johnson, and the favor of the British government, which placed him in the road to promotion. The successful manner in which he availed himself of these advantages is attributable to his own abilities.
At the age of thirteen, he is said to have been present with Sir William Johnson at the battle of Lake George, in which the French were defeated, and their commander, the Baron Dieskau, mortally wounded. He served under Sir William Johnson in 1756, and again in 1759, when that commander gained a high reputation by a brilliant campaign.
Among the facts most honorable to the memory of Sir William Johnson, was the attention which, at that early day, he paid to the moral improvement of the Mohawks. The political agents of European governments have seldom concerned themselves further in the affairs of the Indians than to use them in war, or make them a source of profit. Sir William selected a number of Mohawk youths, and sent them to an Indian missionary school, which was established at Lebanon, in Connecticut, under the direction of the Rev. Doctor E. Wheelock, afterwards President of Dartmouth College, which grew out of this small foundation. Thayendanegea, the promising brother of Miss Molly, was one of the lads thus selected, and the only one who is known to have derived any benefit from the discipline of the school-room, except Samson Occum, who be came a preacher and an author. The date of this transaction is riot known, but it is supposed, with reason, to have immediately ensued the campaign of 1759. One of these lads, being directed by Dr. Wheelock’s son to saddle his horse, refused, on the ground that he was a gentleman’s son, and not obliged to do a menial office. “Do you know what a gentleman is?” inquired young Wheelock. “I do,” replied the aboriginal youngster; “a gentleman is a person who keeps race-horses, and drinks Madeira wine, which neither you nor your father do therefore saddle the horse yourself.”
The education of Brant must have been quite limited, for, in 1762, we find him employed as an interpreter, in the service of Mr. Smith, a missionary, who visited the Mohawks in that year; and a war breaking out shortly after, he engaged eagerly in a pursuit more consonant to his taste and early habits. He probably served one campaign, and returned in 1764. In the following year, he was living at Canajoharie, having previously married the daughter of an Oneida chief, and here he remained peaceably for three years. “He now lives in a decent manner,” said a writer of that day, “and endeavors to teach his poor brethren the things of God, in which his own heart seems much engaged. His house is an asylum for the missionaries in that wilderness.” Being frequently engaged as. an interpreter by the missionaries, his opportunities for acquiring religious instruction were considerable, and he is supposed to have assisted Dr. Barclay, in 1769, in revising the Mohawk Prayer Book. About the year 1771, he was frequently employed by Sir William Johnson both at home and upon various distant missions. He also assisted Dr. Stewart in translating the Acts of the Apostles into the Mohawk tongue.
In 1772 or 3, Thayendanegea became the subject of serious religious impressions. He attached himself to the church, and was a regular communicant; and from his serious deportment, and the great anxiety he manifested for the introduction of Christianity among his people, hopes were entertained that he would become a powerful auxiliary in that cause. In a brief space, those impressions were erased, and Brant resumed the trade of war, with all its savage horrors, with the same avidity with which the half-tamed wolf returns to his banquet of blood.
Sir William Johnson died in 1774, when the storm of the American Revolution was lowering in the political horizon, and on the eve of bursting. He was succeeded in his title and estates by his son, Sir John Johnson, and in his official authority, as superintendent of the Indian department, by his son-in-law, Colonel Guy John son neither of whom inherited his talents, his virtues, or his popularity. They continued, however, with the aid of Brant and ” Miss Molly,” who was a woman of decided abilities, to sway a considerable influence over the Six Nations, and in connection with Colonel John Butler, and his son Colonel Walter N. Butler, became leaders in some of the darkest scenes of that memorable epoch.
We are not permitted to enter minutely upon the complicated intrigues of these individuals, nor to detail the atrocities committed under their auspices. Through their active agency, the Indians, within the sphere of their influence, were not only alienated from the American people, but brought forward as active parties in the war. The American Congress, and the authorities of New York, endeavored in vain to dissuade the Johnson’s from enlisting the Indians in this unhappy contest; but they persisted, with a full knowledge of the horrors attendant on the warfare of savages; and it is now ascertained that Sir Guy Carleton gave the sanction of his great and worthy name to this unnatural and dishonorable form of hostility. The consequence was that the Indians were turned loose upon the frontiers, and that a war of the most cruel and exterminating character ensued between those who had once been neighbors.
These outrages were the more to be deplored, as they might, to a great degree, have been prevented. The American Revolution was not a sudden ebullition of popular fury, nor were the leaders mere adventurers, reckless of consequences. It resulted from the deliberate resolves of a whole people, seeking the redress of grievances, and who desired to purchase political freedom with the smallest possible expenditure of human life. It was directed throughout by men of the highest character for talents and moral worth men who risked every thing in the contest, and who had too much reputation at stake to be careless of public opinion. They knew that a civil war, under the best auspices, is usually fruitful of scenes of private revenge and vindictive outrage; and from the first they endeavored, by their counsels and example, to exclude from this conflict all unnecessary violence, and to give it a tone of magnanimity and forbearance Especially did they deprecate the employment of the savage tribes, whose known rule of warfare is extermination, without regard to age or sex who acknowledge none of those humane regulations which, in modern times, have disarmed war of many of its horrors; and who, having no interest in the event of this contest, would only increase the effusion of blood without strengthening the hands or gaining the friendship of either party While, therefore, they declined the assistance of the Indians, they earnestly besought the British authorities to pursue a similar policy. It was greatly to be deplored that other counsels prevailed The British officers, in the zeal of their loyalty, and from contempt for those whom they considered as traitors, were by no means choice in the measures they adopted to suppress the rebellion; and not being inhabitants of the colonies, having neither property nor families exposed to violence, they did not feel the same personal interest which the colonists felt in the prevention of lawless outrage.
About the year 1776, Thayendanegea became the principal war chief of the confederacy of the Six Nations it being an ancient usage to confer that station upon a Mohawk. He had not, at that time, greatly distinguished himself as a warrior, and we are at a loss to account for his sudden elevation, unless we suppose that he owed it, in some degree at least, to the patronage of the Johnsons, and to the peculiar circumstances in which he was placed. It was deemed important by the British to secure the alliance of the Six Nations. Little Abraham, the chief of the Mohawks, was friendly to the colonists; other of the older warriors may have felt the same predilection, while Brant, whose ambition was equal to his ability and address, may have been less scrupulous in regard to the service that would be expected from the partisan who should lead the Indian forces. With the office of leader, he acquired the title of “Captain Brant,” by which he was afterwards known.
Mr. Stone, in his “Life of Brant,” remarks, in reference to this appointment: ” For the prosecution of a border warfare, the officers of the crown could scarcely have engaged a more valuable auxiliary. Distinguished alike for his address, his activity, and his courage; possessing, in point of stature and symmetry of person, the advantage of most men even among his own well-formed race tall, erect, and majestic, with the air and mien of one born to command, having, as it were, been a man of war from his boyhood his name was a tower of strength among the warriors of the wilderness. Still more extensive was his influence rendered, by the circumstance that he had been much employed in the civil service of the Indian department, under Sir William Johnson, by whom he was often deputed upon embassies among the tribes of the confederacy, and to those yet more distant, upon the great lakes and rivers of the northwest, by reason of which his knowledge of the whole country and people was accurate and extensive.”
Immediately after receiving this appointment, Brant made his first voyage to England; and his biographer suggests that this visit may have resulted from a hesitation, on the part of the chief, in regard to committing himself in the war with the colonies. A portion of the confederacy inclined to the colonial side of the controversy; others were disposed to be neutral. Brant and some of his friends favored the British, while some brilliant successes, recently gained by the Americans, “presented another view of the case, which was certainly entitled to grave consideration.” By making the voyage, he gained time, and was enabled to observe for himself the evidences of the power and resources of the king, and to judge how far it would be wise to embark his own fortunes on the side of his ancient ally. He was well received in England, and admitted to the best society. Having associated with educated men all his life, and having naturally an easy and graceful carriage, it is probable that his manners arid conversation entitled him to be thus received; and as he was an “Indian King,” he was too valuable an ally to be neglected. Among those who took a fancy to him was Boswell, “and an intimacy seems to have existed between him and the Mohawk chief, since the latter sat for his picture at the request of this most amiable of egotists.” We can imagine that a shrewd Indian chief would have been a rare lion for Boswell. He also sat to Romney for a portrait for the Earl of Warwick.
After a short visit, during which he received the hospitality of many of the nobility and gentry, and was much caressed at court, he returned to America, confirmed in his predilection for the royal cause, and determined to take up the hatchet against the Americans, agreeably to the stipulations of a treaty which he had made with Sir Guy Carleton. He landed privately somewhere in the neighborhood of New York, and pursued his journey alone and secretly through the woods to Canada, crossing the whole breadth of the State of New York, by a route which could not have embraced a shorter distance than three hundred miles.
The determination of the Mohawk chief to take up arms caused great regret in the neighboring colonies, where every exertion had been made to induce the Six Nations to remain neutral; and many influential individuals continued to the last to use their personal efforts to effect that desirable object. Among others, President Wheelock interfered, and wrote a long epistle to his former pupil, in which he urged upon him, as a man and a Christian, the various considerations that should induce him to stand aloof from this con test between the king and his subjects. “Brant” we quote again from Mr. Stone “replied very ingeniously. Among other things, he referred to his former residence with the doctor recalled the happy hours he had spent under his roof and referred especially to his prayers, and the family devotions to which he had listened. He said he could never forget those prayers; and one passage in particular was so often repeated, that it could never be effaced from his mind. It was among other of his good preceptor’s petitions, ‘that they might be able to live as good subjects to fear God, and honor the King.”
The first occasion on which we find Brant conspicuously mentioned as a commander, is at “the Cedars,” a post held by Colonel Bedell, with three hundred and ninety provincials, which was assailed by Captain Forster, with six hundred British troops and Indians, the latter led by Brant. The American commander could easily have defended his position, but was intimidated by a threat from the enemy, ” that, should the siege continue, and any of the Indians be slain, it would be impossible, in the event of a surrender, for the British commander to prevent a general massacre;” and were induced, by ” these deceptive and unjustifiable means,” as they are correctly termed by General Washington, to surrender. Brant is praised by his biographer for having exerted himself, after the surrender, to prevent the massacre of the prisoners, and particularly for rescuing from torture Captain John McKinstry, whom the Indians were preparing to burn. We confess that we see nothing to approve in the whole transaction. The British and Indian commanders were both bound by the capitulation to protect the prisoners they were bound by the plainest dictates of humanity, as well as by the code of military honor and we cannot afford to praise men for doing merely a duty, the neglect of which would have covered them with infamy. The allegation that the Indians could not be controlled, which we find repeated on many occasions, was well characterized, by the pure and high-minded Washington, as ” deceptive,” for there are no troops whose leaders exercise over them a more absolute control. But there can be no apology offered for the employment of savages who could not be restrained from the murder of prisoners; and Sir Guy Carleton, in using this species of force, has left an indelible blot on his name. Nor can we excuse Brant for deliberately engaging in such a warfare. He had received the education of a civilized man, had read the Scriptures, and professed to be a disciple of Christ, and he knew that the atrocities practiced by the Indians were unjustifiable. The Mohawks had no interest in this quarrel; it was wholly indifferent to them whether the government should be royal or republican; and they engaged in it as mercenaries, employed by a distant government to fight against their own neighbors. The principle involved was beyond their comprehension: Brant might have had some idea of it, but if he had any actual knowledge on the subject, he must have known that neither party acknowledged the Indians as having any rights at stake. They could have had no inducement to take either side but the lust for blood and plunder. We must clearly, therefore, draw a broad line of distinction between such men as Philip, Pontiac, and Tecumthe, who fought in defense of their native soil, animated by a high-toned patriotism, and Thayendanegea, who was hired to fight in a quarrel in which he had no interest.
Among the various efforts made to induce the Indians to remain neutral, and to soften the horrors of this war, by excluding the dreadful agency of the tomahawk and fire-brand, was a conference with Brant, sought by General Herkimer. The latter was a substantial citizen, residing on the Mohawk river, near the Little Falls, and in that part of the country most exposed to the incursions of the Six Nations. He was a man of sagacity and courage, whose abilities had recommended him to his countrymen as a leader in their border wars; and having taken up arms in the sacred cause of liberty, and in defense of the firesides of his neighbors, he was chosen a general officer. He had been the friend and neighbor of Brant, and now sought a meeting with that chief for the purpose of using his personal influence to detach him from the war; or perhaps to drive him from the equivocal position he then occupied, by bringing out his real views, so that he might be trusted as a friend or treated as an enemy.
They met near Unadilla. The parties were encamped two miles apart, and about midway between them a temporary shed was erected, sufficiently large to shelter two hundred persons. It was stipulated that their arms were to be left at their respective encampments. Here they met, each attended by a few followers, and a long conversation ensued, in the course of which Brant became offended at some remark that was made, ” and by a signal to the warriors attending him at a short distance, they ran back to their encampment, and soon afterwards appeared again with their rifles, several of which were discharged, while the shrill war-whoop rang through the forest.” What means were used by Herkimer to counteract this treachery, we are not told; but it appears that the parties separated without bloodshed.
A singular version is given of the meeting between these leaders, which occurred on the following morning, by appointment. General Herkimer, we are told, selected a person named Waggoner, with three associates, to perform ” a high and important duty.”
“His design, the General said, was to take the lives of Brant and his three attendants, on the renewal of their visit that morning. For this purpose, he should rely on Waggoner and his three associates, on the arrival of the chief and his friends within the circle, as on the preceding day, each to select his man, and at a concerted signal to shoot them down on the spot. There is something so revolting so rank and foul in this project of meditated treachery, that it is difficult to reconcile it with the well-known character of General Herkimer.” Had the author from whom we quote narrated the simple facts, without the comment so injurious to the memory of a venerated patriot of the Revolution, there would have been no difficulty in reconciling them with the character of a brave soldier; for in the sequel no attempt was made on the life of Brant, and the orders of Herkimer if such orders were ever given were doubtless precautionary, and intended only to be executed in defense of himself and his companions. Herkimer sought the friendship of Brant, not his life. His mission was peaceful: he sought to conciliate the Indians, not to irritate them by an act of rash violence. He was met in an overbearing spirit by the savage chief, who, having already hired out his tribe to the officers of the king, had not the candor to admit that he was no longer free to treat with the king’s enemies, but endeavored, like the wolf in the fable, to fix a quarrel on his proposed victim. He came to the meeting on the second day, as on the first, followed by his warriors, in violation of the express terms of the conference. ” I have five hundred warriors with me,” said he, ” armed and ready for battle. You are in my power; but, as we have been friends and neighbors, I will not take advantage of you.” “Saying which,” continues his biographer, ” a host of his armed warriors darted forth from the contiguous forest, all painted and ready for the onslaught, as the well-known war-whoop but too clearly proclaimed.” The interview ended without bloodshed. We are wholly at a loss to find any evidence upon which to throw the slightest blame upon Herkimer, or to palliate the conduct of Brant, who evidently sought to provoke a quarrel which might afford a pretense for bloodshed.
From this time we contemplate with less pleasure the character of the highly gifted Mohawk, who, from the lofty and noble eminence on which he had placed himself, as an example and teacher of civilization, descended suddenly into a common marauder. Throwing aside all profession of neutrality, he now attended a council held by British commissioners, and pledged himself and his people to take up the hatchet in his Majesty’s service.
“From that day,” says his biographer, Mr. Stone, “Thayendanegea was the acknowledged chief of the Six Nations, and he soon became one of the master spirits of the motley forces employed by Great Britain in her attempts to recover the Mohawk Valley, and to annoy the other settlements of what then constituted the north western frontier. Whether in the conduct of a campaign, or of a scouting party, in the pitched battle, or the foray, this crafty and dauntless chieftain was sure to be one of the most efficient, as he was one of the bravest, of those engaged. Combining with the native hardihood and sagacity of his race, the advantages of education and civilized life in acquiring which he had lost nothing of his activity and power of endurance he became the most powerful border foe with whom the provincials had to contend, and his name was a terror to the land. His movements were at once so secret and so rapid, that he seemed almost to be clothed with the power of ubiquity.”
One of his earliest military movements was a descent upon the defenseless settlement of Cherry Valley, undertaken for the purpose of killing and capturing the inhabitants, and devastating their property. An accident saved them, for that time, from the blow. It happened, that as Brant and his warriors were about to issue from a wood in which they lurked, to attack a private house, the residence of Colonel Campbell, some children, who had formed themselves into a military corps, were seen parading with their wooden guns in front of the mansion, and the Indians, mistaking them for real soldiers, retired. Balked of their prey, they slunk into the wood, and lay concealed, brooding over their schemes of malevolent mischief. Unhappily at this moment a promising young American officer, Lieutenant Wormwood, traveling on horseback, with one attendant, reached the spot, and was shot down by the Indians, and scalped by Brant’s own hand. His biographer adds, that the chief “lamented the death of this young man. They were not only acquaintances, but friends.” Yet he took the scalp with his own hand.
A most melancholy illustration of the wickedness of employing savages in war is afforded in the tragic fate of Miss McCrea a lovely young woman, engaged to a British officer, and on her way to meet and be united with him, when she was captured, murdered, and mangled in the most shocking manner, by the Indians attached to the British army. This occurred on the northern frontier, and at about the period to which we have brought this sketch. About the same time, an Indian secretly entered the house of the American General Schuyler, for the purpose of assassinating that illustrious person, whose life was saved by the fidelity of his servants.
We notice these events merely to show the character of the war which was waged upon the frontiers, and in which Brant was a conspicuous man an unsparing warfare against private individuals and private property. But we cannot, in a brief outline like this, enter upon a minute narrative of the exploits of that chieftain, who was constantly in the field, sometimes with the British forces, but more frequently leading parties of Indians and Tories against the settlements. His most important service, about this period, was at the battle of Oriskany, where General Herkimer, with a small body &f provincials, came into conflict with an Indian force led by Brant. The latter had selected a position with admirable skill, and formed an ambuscade in a defile, through which the Americans were to pass, and fell suddenly upon the troops while they were crossing a ravine. The Americans were thrown into irretrievable disorder, but fought with courage. General Herkimer was desperately wounded early in the engagement, but caused himself to be seated on his saddle, at the foot of a tree, against which he leaned for sup port, and in this position continued to direct the battle, with unabated coolness and judgment. The conflict was fierce, and the slaughter great. The Tories and savages, superior in numbers, closed around the Americans, fighting hand to hand, and the gallant little army of Herkimer seemed doomed to destruction, when a violent storm, bursting suddenly upon them, separated the combatants for about an hour. The Americans availed themselves of this respite to prepare to renew the action, and in the event effected a masterly retreat, under the orders of their intrepid commander, who was brought off on a rudely constructed litter. Of this brave and excellent man it is told, that, during the hottest period of the battle, while sitting wounded upon his saddle, and propped against a tree, he deliberately took a tinder-box from his pocket, lighted his pipe, and smoked with perfect composure; and when his men, seeing him exposed to the whole fire of the enemy, proposed to remove him to a place where there would be less danger, he said, “No, I will face the enemy.” He did not long survive the battle. Both parties claimed the victory. It was a well-fought field, in which Brant showed himself a consummate leader.
At the opening of the campaign, in 1778, Mr. Stone relates that “Thayendanegea returned to his former haunts on the Susquehanna, Oghkwaga, and Unadilla. He soon proved himself an act ive and dreaded partisan. No matter for the difficulties or the distance, whenever a blow could be struck to any advantage, Joseph Brant was sure to be there. Frequent, moreover, were the instances in which individuals, and even whole families, disappeared, with out any knowledge, on the part of those who were left, that an enemy had been there. The smoking ruins of the cabins, the charred bones of the dead, and the slaughtered carcasses of domes-tic animals, were the only testimonials of the cause of the catastrophe, until the return of a captive, or the disclosure of some prisoner taken from the foe, furnished more definite information. But there is no good evidence that Brant was himself a participator in secret murders, or attacks upon isolated individuals or families; and there is much reason to believe that the bad feelings of many of the loyalists induced them to perpetrate greater enormities themselves, and prompt the parties of Indians whom they often led, to commit greater barbarities than the savages would have done had they been left to themselves.”
We have given the whole of the above paragraph fact and inference in order that the character of Brant may have the full benefit of the defense set up by his biographer. Negative proof is, at best, unsatisfactory; and it would not be strange if there were in fact no evidence of the participation of the leader in deeds so secret as those alluded to. That he was the master spirit of the predatory warfare waged against the frontier settlements of New York, is distinctly asserted in the commencement of the paragraph, and that warfare consisted almost entirely of ” secret murders, and attacks upon private individuals or families.” And we see no reason for drawing a distinction between himself and the Johnsons and Butlers who directed the measures of the loyalist inhabitants of that region. The sin and the shame of these men consisted in warring at all upon the homes of the peasantry in carrying the atrocities of murder and arson to the firesides of the inhabitants in turning loose bands of savages, whether red or white, to burn houses, devastate fields, and slaughter women and children. There can be no apology for such inhuman deeds; and it is in vain to attempt, by nice distinctions, to discriminate between the heads that planner!, and the brutal hands that perpetrated, schemes so fraught with horror unless it be to pronounce the heavier malediction on the former upon those who originated the plan with a full knowledge of the fearful outrages which must attend its execution, and who persevered in such a warfare after having witnessed, even in one instance, its direful effects.
We have not room to enter into a detailed account of the murders and burnings of this energetic marauder; a general statement, from the pages of the biographer already quoted, will be sufficient for our purpose. ” The inhabitants around the whole border, from Saratoga north of Johnstown, and west to the German Flats, thence south stretching down to Unadilla, and thence eastwardly crossing the Susquehanna, along Charlotte river to Harpersfield, and thence back to Albany were necessarily an armed yeomanry, watching for themselves, and standing sentinels for each other, in turn; harassed daily by conflicting rumors; now admonished of the approach of the foe in the night by the glaring flames of a neighbor’s house; or compelled suddenly to escape from his approach, at a time and in a direction the least expected. Such was the tenure of human existence around the confines of this whole district of country, from the spring of 1777 to the end of the contest in 1782.”
The destruction of the settlement of Wyoming by a British force under Colonel John Butler, of three hundred regulars arid Tories, and five hundred Indians, has been recorded in the histories of the Revolution, and rendered immortal in the verse of Campbell. It was signalized by cruelty and perfidy such as have never been excelled; and although it now appears that many exaggerations were published in relation to it, the melancholy truths that remain uncontradicted are sufficient to stamp this dark transaction with everlasting infamy.
The participation of Brant in this expedition is denied by Mr. Stone, who says, “Whether Captain Brant was at any time in com pany with this expedition, is doubtful; but it is certain, in the face of every historical authority, British and American, that, so far from being engaged in the battle, he was many miles distant at the time of its occurrence. Such has been the uniform testimony of the British officers engaged in that expedition, and such was always the word of Thayendanegea himself.” He also alludes to a letter written after the death of Brant, by his son, to the poet Campbell, in which the younger Brant is said to have “successfully vindicated his father’s memory from calumny,” and to one received by himself from a Mr. Frey, the son of a loyalist, who was engaged in that atrocious affair.
We do not think the point placed in issue by this denial of sufficient importance to induce us to spend much time in its examination. The character of Brant would not be materially affected by settling it one way or the other, for the massacre at Wyoming differs in no essential particular from a number of sanguinary deeds in which that chief was the acknowledged leader; and it was part of a system which unavoidably led to such cruelties. It is not improbable that Brant himself took this view of the question, for, although he lived thirty years after that affair, during the whole of which time he was mentioned by British and American writers as one of its leaders, and the chief instigator of the cruelties committed, he does not appear to have ever publicly disclaimed the connection with it imputed to him. “Gertrude of Wyoming,” one of the noblest monuments of British genius, was familiarly known wherever the English language was spoken, and the American people were soothed by the circumstance that the ” Monster Brant” and his deeds were denounced by an English bard of the highest standing. Campbell undertook to spurn from the national character the foul stain of those dastardly and wicked murders, and to place the opprobrium on the heads of certain individuals and none denied the justice of the decree. Brant was an educated man, who mingled in the best provincial society, and corresponded with many gentlemen in Europe and America He certainly knew the position in regard to public opinion which he occupied, and had the means to rectify the wrong, if any existed. It would be a singular fact, too, if “every historical authority, British and American,” concurred in a statement which the “uniform testimony of the British officers engaged in the battle” contradicted, and ” that such was always the word of Thayendanegea himself,” and yet that no formal refutation should have been attempted in the lifetime of the chief, nor until forty-five years after the event. The testimony of the British officers would have been satisfactory; but we apprehend that the mere hearsay evidence of two of the sons of the actors in these events, will hardly be received now in opposition to the unanimous and uncontradicted statements of contemporary writers.
The destruction of the delightful settlement of the German Flats, in 1778, was the admitted exploit of Brant. The inhabitants, providentially advised of his secret march upon them, were hastily gathered together -men, women, and children into two little forts, Herkimer and Dayton. The chief crept upon them with his usually stealthy pace, “unconscious that his approach had been notified to the people in season to enable them to escape the blow of his uplifted arm. Before the dawn he was on foot, and his warriors sweeping through the settlement, so that the torch might be almost simultaneously applied to every building it contained. Just as the day was breaking in the east, the fires were kindled, and the whole section of the valley was speedily illuminated by the flames of houses and barns, and all things else combustible.” Such is the account of the writer who contends ” that there is no good evidence that Brant was himself a participator” in such transactions. There were burnt, on this occasion, sixty-three dwelling-houses, fifty-seven barns, three grist-mills, and two saw-mills What the fate of the inhabitants would have been, had they remained in their houses, as Brant supposed them to be when he ordered the firebrands to be applied, our readers may readily imagine. It does not appear that the forts were molested, nor does Brant seem, on this occasion, to have sought collision with armed men. The marauders retired, chagrined “that neither scalps nor prisoners were to grace their triumphs;” and the settlement, which but the day before, for ten miles, had smiled in plenty and beauty, was now houseless and destitute.”
In the same year Cherry Valley was again ravaged, and those enormities repeated, of which we have perhaps already related toe many. Among the numerous murders perpetrated on this occasion were those of the whole family of Mr. Wells, except a boy who was at school, at Albany, and who afterwards became a distinguished member of the bar. “The destruction of the family of Mr. Wells was marked by circumstances of peculiar barbarity. It was boasted by one of the Tories that he had killed Mr. Wells while engaged in prayer certainly a happy moment for a soul to wing its flight to another state of existence; but what the degree of hardihood that could boast of compassing the death of an unarmed man at such a moment! His sister Jane was distinguished alike for her beauty, her accomplishments, and her virtues. As the savages rushed into the house, she fled to a pile of wood on the premises, and endeavored to conceal herself. She was pursued and arrested by an Indian, who, with perfect composure, wiped and sheathed his drip ping knife, and took his tomahawk from his girdle. At this instant a Tory, who had formerly been a domestic in the family, sprang for ward and interposed in her behalf, claiming her as a sister. The maiden, too, who understood somewhat of the Indian language implored for mercy but in vain. With one hand the Indian pushed the Tory from him, and with the other planted the hatchet deep in her temple!”
In the valley where these atrocities were committed, there was a small fort, defended by a few men; but the Indians, “being received by a brisk fire of grape and musketry from the garrison, avoided the fort, and directed their attention chiefly to plundering arid laying waste the village, having sated themselves in the outset with blood.” Such is the warfare of the Indian cool, patient, and brave, when compelled to face danger; but always, when acting from choice, shunning the contest with armed men, and seeking out the weak and unprepared.
In the biography of Brant, from which we select these facts, we find an attempt to vindicate his conduct on this occasion. It is said he was “not the commander of this expedition, and if he had been it is not certain he could have compelled a different result. But it is certain that his conduct on that fatal day was neither barbarous nor ungenerous. On the contrary, he did all in his power to prevent the shedding of innocent blood.” We are at a loss to know what blood was shed on that occasion that was not innocent blood. The expedition was not directed against any military post, nor any body of armed men, but against the homes of peaceful farmers, whose houses and barns were burnt, and whose wives and children were slaughtered. The torch was applied indiscriminately to every dwelling-house, and, in fact, to every building in the village. The country was desolated for miles around; and human life was extinguished without regard to the form in which it existed, however reverend, or beautiful, or innocent. Those of the inhabitants who were not slain, were driven away like a herd of beasts. At night they were huddled together, under the charge of sentinels, and forced to lie half naked on the ground, with no cover but the heavens. Of two of these unfortunate beings, the follow ing heart-rending anecdote is told. “Mrs. Cannon, an aged lady, and the mother of Mrs. Campbell, being unfitted for traveling by reason of her years, the Indian having both in charge dispatched the mother with his hatchet, by the side of her daughter. Mrs. Campbell was driven along by the uplifted hatchet, having a child in her arms eighteen months old, with barbarous rapidity, until the next day, when she was favored with a more humane master.”
These are but a few of a long list of similar atrocities which, in our apprehension, were both barbarous and ungenerous. Butler . and Brant each endeavored, subsequently, to cast the stigma of these cruelties on each other; the one alleging that he was not the commander in the enterprise, and the other that the crafty Mohawk had secretly instigated his people to these excesses to advance his own ends; but impartial history will not attempt to trace the imaginary line of distinction between the leader in such an inroad and the second in command in a case, too, where both were volunteers, and neither had any legal or actual control over the other. Neither of them were natives of Great Britain both were mercenaries, serving occasionally for the emolument, or the gratification to be earned in that service. The murder of women, and the devastation of fields, formed their chosen path to honor the smoking ruins of cottages, and the charred bones of infants, were the monuments of their warlike deeds. Nor can we admit the validity of the often repeated apology for Brant that he could not control his warriors. There are no troops in the world that are more completely under the command of their leaders than the Indians. Their discipline is exact and uncompromising. From infancy, the Indian is taught self-control, and obedience to his superiors; and death on the spot, by the hand of the leader, is the usual punishment of contumacy. But Brant and Butler knew when they set out on these enterprises, that the sole object was to burn dwellings, to fire barns, to slaughter unarmed men, women, and children; and if it was true, that, having turned loose their savages to the work of blood, they could no longer control them, we do not see what they gain by this excuse. The savages did the work which had been planned for them; and we fancy there is little room for casuistry to scan nicely the degrees of barbarity which marked the conduct of the different actors.
In an action near Minnisink, in 1779, in which his opponents were armed men, Brant deserved the credit of having adroitly planned and boldly executed an attack. The usual cruelties, how ever, were perpetrated, and seventeen wounded men, who were under charge of a surgeon, perished by the tomahawk.
Brant fought again at the battle of the Chemung, in the same year, where fifteen hundred Tories and Indians, commanded by himself, the Butlers, and the Johnsons, were beaten by the Americans under General Sullivan.
It was during the campaign of Sullivan that Red Jacket first made his appearance as a conspicuous man among the Indians, and a feud commenced between him and Brant, which continued throughout their lives. Brant accused Red Jacket, not merely of cowardice, but also of treachery, and asserted that he had discovered a secret correspondence between the latter and the American General. Red Jacket, it was said, was in the habit of holding secret councils with a number of young warriors, and with some timid and disaffected leaders, and at length sent a runner with a flag to General Sullivan, to advise him that a spirit of discontent prevailed among the Indians. Brant, who was confidentially informed of these proceedings, privately dispatched two warriors to waylay and assassinate the runner, which, being effected, put an end to the intrigue.
In 1780, Brant led a party of forty-three Indians and seven Tories against the settlement of Harpersfield, which was surprised and destroyed; and he then bent his steps towards Scoharie, which he supposed to be undefended. On his way he encountered Captain Harper and fourteen men, who were making sugar in the woods, of whom three were killed, and the remainder taken. Harper, a brave man, famed for more than one hardy exploit, determined to save the settlement of Scoharie from the dreadful calamity of a visit from Brant, and, on being questioned as to its defenses, coolly stated that three hundred continental troops had just been stationed there, and persisted in this story until the Indians were induced to retrace their steps to Niagara. On their way they fell in with an old man and his two youthful grandsons, who were also captured; but finding the old man unable to keep pace with the party, he was put to death, and his scalp added to the trophies of the expedition. It was intended that, on the arrival of the party at Niagara, the prisoners should be subjected to the barbarous torture of running the gauntlet, but Brant frustrated this plan by sending a mes sage secretly to the commander of the fort at that place, in consequence of which they were received, on their arrival at the outposts, by a party of regulars, who took possession of them. We cheer fully accord the praise due to this act of humanity.
We shall not pursue the Mohawk chief through all the windings of his crafty and sanguinary career. He continued until the close of the war in 1782 to harass the settlements by such incursions as we have described. Those who delight in recitals of tragic interest, may find a series of such events well told in Mr. Stone’s work. They are too numerous to be related at length in such a sketch as this, and too much alike in their general outlines to be abridged with advantage. In perusing this history, the heart sickens at the oft-repeated tale of domestic agony the tearing of husbands, wives, and children, from each others embrace the captivity of delicate females the driving of half-clad and bare-footed women and children through the wilderness, exposed to all the vicissitudes of climate the torture of prisoners the thousand varieties of savage cruelty. All these deeds, which we contemplate with comparative composure, when told of untaught savages stung to rage by the invasion of their hunting-grounds, awaken a lively sensation of horror when we behold them deliberately planned and executed under the flag of a great nation, by persons of European descent, and by a sagacious chief who had felt and acknowledged the advantages of civilization, who had reaped honor and advantage through an intercourse with the whites, which, previous to this unhappy war, had been characterized by mutual confidence and kindness. Brant had no wrongs to avenge upon the American people he had nothing to gain by the part he acted but the pay of a mercenary and the plunder of a marauder, while the effect of these hostilities upon his tribe was demoralizing and destructive of that reform which he professed to be endeavoring to introduce among them.
It is not to be denied that this dark picture is occasionally relieved by acts of merry on the part of the Mohawk chief. But we are not inclined to accord much praise to isolated acts of generosity, that glimmer, at distant intervals, through a long career of brutal violence. The miser who devotes all his life to the hoarding of gold, gains no applause for an occasional freak of generosity; nor does the’ savage, who pauses, in the midst of a prolonged series of murders, to spare a woman, or a trembling child, deserve the laurel of the hero. We estimate the character of a man by his general con duct, and while we forgive the little errors of a good man, we must, on the same principle, pass over the accidental departures of a depraved mind from its habitual wrong doing. It is a common but sound objection against fictitious writings, that characters essentially bad are tricked out in a few redeeming virtues which recommend them to the thoughtless reader; and with still stronger reason should this grave argument of the moralist be applied to the personages of history, whose habitual crimes should not be lost sight of amid the luster of a few bright actions.
In 1785, the war being over, Brant made another visit to England, where he was well received. On being presented to the king, he declined kissing his majesty’s hand, but observed that he would gladly kiss the hand of the queen. The Bishop of London, Fox, Boswell, Earl Percy, Earl Moira, and other distinguished persons, admitted him to their society; and it is no small proof of his talent and address that he sustained himself well in the best circles of the British metropolis. The Prince of Wales is said to have taken delight in his company, and sometimes took him, as the chief afterwards remarked, “to places very queer for a prince to go to.” It is also asserted that the scenes of coarse dissipation which be witnessed at the prince’s table, and the freedom with which the leading Whigs spoke of the king, had the effect of greatly weakening his respect for royalty, as well as his regard for the king’s person.
The ostensible object of Brant’s visit was to obtain for his tribe some remuneration for their services during the war; but as the Canadian authorities had already made them a large grant of land in Upper Canada, to which they removed, and where they still reside, it. is probable that his mission had relation chiefly to another subject. After the war, Great Britain retained possession, for several years, of certain military posts, south of the lakes, and within the limits of the United States. The tribes at war with the United States made these posts their rallying points, and received from them constant supplies. The British ministry, who had never formed any adequate judgment of the extent of this country, or of the enterprise and energy of the people, vainly supposed that Great Britain, by uniting with the savage tribes, might restrain the Americans from extending their settlements beyond the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and by possessing herself of that region, and ultimately of the whole Mississippi plain, acquire an ascendancy on the continent which would enable her to recover her lost colonies. The crafty and intriguing character of Brant rendered him a willing and an able actor in these schemes; and he passed frequently from Canada to the North- western Territory, to hold councils with the Indians. But as the British government did not avow these proceedings, and as the Indians might have been doubtful how far the agents who tampered with them were authorized, it was desirable that some more direct communication should be had with the ministry; and the chief purpose of Brant’s visit was to ascertain whether, in case of a general war between the Indians and the United States, the former might rely upon the support of Great Britain. Such is the clear import of numerous letters collected in Mr. Stone’s work, some of which are published for the first time, and which throw light upon points of this history which have been obscure. The British government, however, would not commit itself on so delicate a matter, and Brant was referred to the Governor of Canada, with general assurances of his majesty’s friendship.
While in London, Captain Brant attended a masquerade, at which many of the nobility and gentry were present appearing in the costume of his tribe, with one side of his face painted. A Turk, who was of the company, was so struck with the grotesque figure of the chief, and especially with his visage, which he supposed to be formed by a mask, that he ventured to indulge his curiosity by touching the Mohawk’s nose; but no sooner did he make this attempt, than the chief, much amused, but affecting great rage, uttered the terrific war-whoop, and drawing his tomahawk, flourished it round the head of the astonished Turk, creating a panic which sent the ladies screaming for protection in all directions
Brant translated the Gospel of Mark into the Mohawk language during this visit; and as the Prayer Books given to the Indians had mostly been lost or destroyed during the war, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, chose the opportunity to bring out a new edition under his supervision, including the Gospel of Mark, as translated by him. The book was elegantly printed in large octavo, under the patronage of the king, and embellished with a number of scriptural scenes engraved in the best style of that day. The date of his return is not exactly known, but his visit was not prolonged beyond a few months, as he was at home in July, 1786.
Brant was now placed in a position which required the exercise of all his address. The Mohawks had withdrawn into Canada, and were under the jurisdiction of Great Britain; the other five of the Six Nations resided in the United States; yet the confederacy remained unbroken, and Thayendanegea continued at its head. The Mohawaks were embittered against the American people, to whom their recent cruelties had rendered them justly odious, while some of the other tribes were decidedly friendly. It required all his attention to keep together a confederacy thus divided. He is supposed, and with little doubt, to have been at the same time engaged in extensive conspiracies against the peace of the American frontiers, and is known to have been frequently in council with the hostile Indians. But while thus engaged, he sought every opportunity of professing his love of peace, his friendship towards the United States, and his desire to heal the existing differences. The mantle of Christianity, which he had thrown aside during the war, was again assumed; and the chief was now engaged in correspondence on religious and benevolent subjects with several distinguished Americans. He affected an earnest desire to civilize his own tribe, and to teach them the Gospel; but there is too much reason to believe that his real sentiments accorded with those of his friend the Duke of Northumberland, who had served in America as Lord Percy, and having been admitted as a warrior into the Mohawk tribe, wrote to Brant, in 1806, as follows: “There are a number of well-meaning persons here, who are very desirous of forming a society to better (as they call it) the condition of our nation, by converting us from warriors and hunters into husbandmen. Let me strongly recommend it to you, and the rest of our chiefs, not to listen to such a proposition. Let our young men never exchange their liberty and manly exercises to become hewers of wood and drawers of water. If they will teach our women to spin and weave, this would be of use, but to endeavor to enervate our young men by doing nothing but tilling the earth, would be the greatest injury they could do the Five Nations.”
But such was the reputation of Brant for abilities, and such the confidence in his professed desire ” to accomplish the desirable end of civilization and peace-making,” that the government of the United States earnestly sought his mediation with the hostile tribes. A correspondence was opened, in which he was appealed to as a man of high-toned benevolence, and as a friend of the red race, to save them from the inevitable destruction to which their perseverance in unnecessary wars must bring them. His replies show that his judgment approved these sentiments, and in them he repeatedly promised to do all in his power to make peace. The war, however, continued for several years longer, the Indians be-corning more and more audacious in their hostilities, and unreasonable in their demands.
Besides a number of lesser engagements, several battles were fought, the most disastrous of which was the defeat of St. Clair, by a large Indian force, aided by several hundred Canadians. “Their leader, according to the received opinion,” says Mr. Stone, “was Meshecunnaqua, or Little Turtle, a distinguished chief of the Miamis. He was also the leader of the Indians against General Harmer, the year before. It is believed, however, that, though nominally the commander-in-chief of the Indians on this occasion, he was greatly indebted both to the counsels and the prowess of another and an older chief. One hundred and fifty of the Mohawk warriors were engaged in this battle; and General St. Clair probably died in ignorance of the fact that one of the master spirits against whom he contended, and by whom he was so signally defeated, was none other than Joseph Brant Thayendanegea. How it happened that this distinguished chief, from whom so much had been expected as a peace-maker, thus suddenly and efficiently threw him self into a position of active hostility, unless he thought he saw an opening for reviving his project of a great north-western confederacy, is a mystery which he is believed to have carried in his own bosom to the grave.”
We do not doubt that Mohawk braves were engaged in this battle, nor that Brant, during the whole of this unhappy war, so distressing to the frontier settlements, and so ruinous to the deluded savages, was secretly engaged in fomenting discord, while affecting the character of a peace-maker. But we cannot suppress our skepticism as to his alleged participation in the battle of November 4, 1791, now first announced upon the authority of his family. We do not undertake to prove a negative, but we aver that the whole weight of the evidence contradicts this novel assumption. It is barely possible that he was there, and if so, his counsels would doubtless have had great influence. But we think it altogether improbable that a leader of such distinction could take part in a general engagement, so important and so decisive, and the fact remain concealed for nearly half a century especially under the circumstances connected with that disastrous event. The defeat of St. Clair caused great excitement, and led to keen inquiry, and its circumstances were investigated by a military court. Subsequently, the scene of the battle, and the lands inhabited by most of the tribes engaged in it, have become settled by Americans. Treaties have been made with those tribes. They have become dependent on the American government, whose agents have been planted among them constantly, from a period immediately succeeding the battle of Wayne, in 1794. There has been a constant intercourse between our people and all the tribes of that region, during the entire period that has elapsed since that war; and many Americans, who were prisoners among those Indians, at the time of the battle, as well as before and since, have, on their return home, communicated a variety of minute information touching an affair which caused even a greater excitement among the Indians than among us. It was a great and an unexpected triumph, the honor and spoils of which were divided among many tribes, who would each discuss all the circumstances, and claim their portion of the glory. It is hardly possible that if Brant was present his name could have been concealed, or that all the individuals of all the tribes engaged should have concurred in yielding to Little Turtle the laurels that belonged to Thayendanegea. No one but himself could have been interested in keeping such a secret, while the fact, if it existed, must have been known to many to Canadians, British officers, and the chiefs and warriors of various tribes, besides the one hundred and fifty of his own people who were in the engagement. We deem it an act of justice to the memory of Brant to suggest these objections; for although we, as Americans, have little reason to admire his military career, we are aware that much might be said* and indeed much has been said, in defense of his conduct while at open war with us, which could not avail in regard to hostilities committed by him while professing to be at peace.
He continued, after the events just related, to correspond with the officers of the American government, in the character of a mediator, keeping up without interruption the intercourse commenced before St. Clair’s campaign, and still professing his ardent desire “to accomplish the desirable end of civilization and peace-making.” These sentiments accorded so well with the pacific views of the President, and were received with such confidence, that he was several times invited, in urgent and complimentary terms, to visit the government at Philadelphia; and after declining more than once, he at last, in June, 1792, commenced a journey to the metropolis of the United States. It is creditable to the moral character of our people that, although he passed through the Mohawk Valley, whose inhabitants had been so severely scourged by his hand, and although threats of vengeance were thrown out by indiscreet individuals, he was unmolested. He was kindly and respectfully received at Philadelphia. The true causes of the war with the western Indians were explained to him; and great pains were taken by the President and Secretary of War to impress upon his mind the sincere desire of the United States to cultivate the most amicable relations with all the Indian tribes, and to spare no exertions to promote their welfare. In the end, he was induced to undertake a mission of peace to some of the tribes, and was furnished with full powers for that purpose. But however sincere were his intentions they were changed on his return home; and the auspicious results anticipated from his mediation were never realized. The United States, wearied out by ineffectual attempts to make peace, were at last compelled to prosecute the war with vigor, and found in General Wayne a negotiator who soon brought the enemy to terms.
We turn with pleasure to a more agreeable part of the life of this remarkable person. After the campaign of 1794 he was not again engaged in war, and devoted his attention to the interests and moral improvement of his tribe. He was not in the slightest degree tinctured with the habitual indolence of his race, and did not sink into mere apathy when sated with bloodshed. He labored for years to get a confirmation of the title of his tribe to the land granted them on Grand River, which proved a source of vexation to him during the remainder of his life. He claimed for his tribe a complete right to the land, with power to sell and grant titles in fee simple; while the government alleged the title to be imperfect, giving to the Indians only the right of occupancy, and reserving the preemption. “Council after council was holden upon the subject, and conference after conference; while quires of manuscript speeches and arguments, in Brant’s own hand, yet remain to attest the sleepless vigilance with which he watched over the interests of his people, and the zeal and ability with which he asserted arid vindicated their rights.” Two deeds were successively framed and offered to the Mohawks, and rejected, and the land continued to be held by the same tenure by which the Indians in the United States occupy their territory.
Before their removal from the Mohawk Valley, some of the tribe had turned their attention to agriculture. Brant himself cultivated a large farm near the residence of General Herkimer. No man ever estimated more truly the advantages of civilization; and had he been sincere in his professions upon that subject, and avoided all connection with the wars of England and America, his tribe would probably have afforded the earliest and most complete ex ample of Indian civilization. His own attainments were consider able; he spoke and wrote the English language correctly, and his compositions are highly respectable in point of thought and style. He was a close observer, and made himself well acquainted with the arts and customs of the whites.
In his own house, Brant was a hospitable and convivial man. and those who visited him were kindly received. He erected a spacious dwelling in Upper Canada, where he lived in handsome style, and his children were all well educated, two of them under the charge of President Wheelock, son of the preceptor of Brant. One son, Isaac, fell a victim to the besetting vice of his race; in a fit of intoxication he assaulted his father, and the stern chief, drawing a dirk, inflicted a wound upon his own son which proved mortal. A mutual dislike existed between this chief and Red Jacket. They were rival politicians; each was the leading man among his own people; and as the Seneca and Mohawk were the principal tribes of the confederacy, each sought the first place in the nation. Their claims were nearly balanced, and they appear to have gained the superiority in turn. In the year 1803, Red Jacket succeeded in procuring the deposition of Brant from the chieftainship of the confederacy, in consequence of some alleged speculations in land, by which it was thought the chief had advanced his own personal interest at the expense of his nation; but at a subsequent council, Brant procured the reversal of this sentence. Both were artful and eloquent men; but Brant had the advantages of education and travel, while Red Jacket was superior in genius and in devotion to his people. Neither of them w as scrupulous as to the means employed to compass his ends; but the one was selfish, while the other was ambitious. Brant sought to advance himself by means of his people, and was ever regardful of his private interests, while Red Jacket, though he claimed the first place among the Seneca, neglected his private interests and labored incessantly for his tribe. Brant was an able warrior; he was cool, sagacious, and bold; but he was also cruel, vindictive, and rapacious; Red Jacket, though not a coward, disliked war, and abhorred bloodshed. They differed as much in policy as in character. Brant delighted in the society of civilized and even refined persons. Red Jacket sternly adhered to the language and customs of his own people, and shunned and discountenanced any familiar intercourse with the whites. The latter considered that the Indians could only be free so long as they remained savages that every art and custom of civilization which they adopted weakened the line of separation, while it introduced a new want to be supplied by the labor or the charity of white men, and increased the dependency of the Indians. Brant maintained through life a friendly intercourse with the English, and favored the introduction of agriculture and the useful arts. He professed, in early life, to be converted to the Christian faith, and though he afterwards departed widely in practice from the meek and merciful deportment of a true believer, he always favored the teaching of the Word, and an outward support to religion, in his public capacity. Red Jacket opposed the missionaries, the Christian religion, and every thing that emanated from the oppressors of his race. On the whole Brant was one of the most remarkable men of his time; a person of brilliant parts, of great vigor and strength of intellect, full of energy and perseverance, and exceedingly subtle in compassing any object he had in view.
He died in November, 1807, at the age of nearly sixty-five years, at his own house, near Burlington, on Lake Ontario, arid was buried at the Mohawk village, on Grand River, by the side of the church he had built there. His last words to his adopted nephew were, ” Have pity on the poor Indians: if you can get any influence with the great, endeavor to do them all the good you can.”
Article printed from Access Genealogy: http://www.accessgenealogy.com
URL to article: http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/joseph-brant-captain-of-the-six-nations.htm
Copyright © 2013 Access Genealogy (http://www.accessgenealogy.com/). All rights reserved.