« AnteriorContinuar »
Mr. President, and
THERE is a strong propensity in the human mind to trace up our ancestry to as high and as remote a source as possible; and if our pride and our ambition cannot be gratified by a real statement of facts, fable is substituted for truth, and the imagination is taxed to supply the deficiency. This principle of our nature, although liable to great perversion, and frequently the source of wellfounded ridicule, may, if rightly directed, become the parent of great actions. The origin and progress of individuals, of families, and of nations, constitute Biography and History, two of the most interesting departinents of human knowledge. Allied to this principle, springing from the same causes, and producing the saine benign effects, is that curiosity we feel in tracing the history of the nations which have occupied the same territory before us, although not connected with us in any other respect. “To abstract the mind from all local emotion,” says an eminent moralist,“ would be impossible if it were endeavoured, and it would be foolish if it were possible.”* The places where
* Johnson's Tour to the Hebrides
great events have been performed; where great virtues have been exhibited; where great crimes have been perpetrated, will always excite kindred emotions of admiration or horror : And if “that man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plains of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among
the ruins of Jona," we may, with equal confidence, assert, that morbid must be his sensibility, and small must be his capacity for improvement, who does not advance in wisdom and in virtue, from contemplating the state and the history of the people who occupied this country before the man of Europe.
As it is, therefore, not uninteresting, and is entirely suitable to this occasion, I shall present a general geographical, political, and historical view of the red men who inhabited this state before us; and this I do the more willingly, from a conviction that no part of America contained a people which will furnish more interesting information and more useful instruction ; which will display the energies of the human character in a more conspicuous manner, whether in light or in shade, in the exhibition of great virtues and talents, or of great vices and defects.
In 1774 the goverment of Connecticut, in an official statement to the British secretary of state, represented the original title to the lands of Connecticut as in the Pequot Nations of Indians, who were numerous and warlike; that their great sachem Sasacus had under him twenty-six sachems, and that their territory extended from Narraganset to Hudson's River, and over all Long Island. * The Long Island Indians, who are represented as very savage and ferocious, were called Meilowacks, or
* Collections of Massachusetts IIistorical Society, vol. 7. p. 231.
Meitowacks, and the Island itself Meitowacks.* The Mohiccons, Mahatons, or Manhattans, occupied this Island and Staten Island. The Mohegans, whose original name was Muhhekanew, were settled on that part of the state east of Hudson's River and below Albany, and those Indians on the west bank from its mouth to the Kaats' Kill mountains, were sometimes denominated Wabinga, and sometimes Sankikani, and they and the Moheganst went by the general appellation of River Indians; or, according to the Dutch, Mohickanders. Whether the Mohegans were a distinct nation from the Pequots,g has been recently doubted, although they were formerly so considered. One of the early historians asserts, that the Narragansets, a powerful nation in New England, held dominion over part of Long Island.|| The generic name adopted by the French for all the Indians of New England, was Abenaquis ; and the country from the head of Chesapeake bay to the Kittatinney mountains, as far eastward as the Abenaquis, and as far northward and westward as the Iroquois, was occupied by a nation denoininated by themselves the Lenni-lenopi; by the French
* Smith's History of New-York, p. 262.
† Staten Island was purchased from the Indians by Col. Lovelace, second governor under the Duke of York, between the years 1667 and 1673. (Chalmers's Political Annals of the Colonies, p. 509.) He refers to different mapuscripts in the plantation office, called New-York Entries, New-York Papers, which appear to be voluminous: If we could ascertain from those papers the nation that sold Staten Island, it might produce some interesting inferences.
Jefferson's Virginia, p. 310. Collections of New-York Historical Society, vol. 1. p. 33, 34. Barton's Views of the Origin of the Indians, p. 31. Trumbull's History of the United States,
Trumbull's History of Connecticut, p. 28. 11 Massachusetts Historical Society, vol. 1. p. 144, &c. Daniel Gookins.
Loups, and by the English Delawares.* Mr. Charles Thompson, formerly secretary of congress, supposed that this nation extended east of Hudson's to Connecticut River, and over Long Island, this island, and Staten Island ; and Mr. Smith, in his History of New York, says, that when the Dutch commenced the settlement of the country, all the Indians on Long Island and the northern shore of the Sound, and on the banks of Connecticut and Hudson Rivers, were in subjection to and paid an annual tribute to the Five Nations. Mr. Smith's statement, therefore, does not accord with the fact of the tribute paid to the United Colonies of New-England, nor with the 'alleged dominion of the Pequots and Narragansets over Long Island. New-York was settled before Connecticut, and the supremacy of the Iroquois was never disturbed; and it probably prevailed at one time over Long Island, over the territory as far east as Connecticut River, and over the Indians on the west banks of the Hudson. The confusion on this subject has probably arisen from the same language being used by the Delawares and Abenaquis, but, indeed, it is not very important to ascertain to which of these nations the red inhabitants of that portion of the state may be properly referred. They, in process of time, became subject to the Iroquois, and paid a tribute in wampum and shells. Their general character and conduct to the first Europeans they probably had ever seen,
* Barton's Views, p. 25. Jefferson's Notes, p. 310, &c.
† It is certain that the Montacket sachem, so called in former times, on the east end of Long Island, paid tribute in wampum to the Confederated Colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecti. ticut, and New Haven, for at least ten years previous to 1656. Hazard's Collections of State Papers, vol. 2. p. 361.
Smith's History of New-York. Colden's History of the Five Nations.
have been described in Hudson's voyage up the North River.* And it is not a little remarkable, that the natives below the Highlands were offensive and predatory, while those above rendered him every assistance and hospitality in their power. Of all these tribes, about nine or ten families remain on Long Island ; their principal settlement is on a track of one thousand acres on Montauck Point. The Stockbridge Indians migrated from Hudson's River, in 1734, to Stockbridge in Massachusetts, from whence they removed about the year 1785 to lands assigned to them by the Oneidas in their territory. The Brothertown Indians formerly resided in Narraganset, in Rhode Island, and in Farmington, Stonington, Mohegan, and some other towns in Connecticut, and are a remnant of the Mubhekanew Indians, formerly called the Seven Tribes on the Sea Coast. They also inhabit lands presented to them by the Oneidas. These Indians, and the Stockbridge Indians, augmented in a small degree by migrations from the Long Island Indians, have formed two settlernents, which by an accurate census taken in 1794, contained four hundred and fifty souls. But the greater part of the Indians below Albany retreated at an early period from the approach of civilized man, and became merged in the nations of the north and the west. As far back as 1687, just after the destruction of the Mohawk Castles by the French, Governor Dongan advisedf the Five Nations to open a path for all the North Indians and Mohickanders, that were among the Ottawas and other nations, and to use every endeavour to bring them home.
* Purchas' Pilgrim, vol. 3. p. 58. New.York Historical Collections, vol. 1. p. 102.
† Massachusetts Historical Society, vol. 4. p. 67, &c.