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meeting or congress, where the confederates attended; that being an express article in their capitulations.* This humiliation of the tributary nations was, however, tempered with a paternal regard for their interests in all negotiations with the whites; and care was taken that no trespasses should be committed on their rights, and that they should be justly dealt with in all their concerns.
War was the favourite pursuit of this martial people, and military glory their ruling passion. Agriculture, and the laborious drudgery of domestic life were left to the women. The education of the savage was solely directed to hunting and war. From his early infancy, he was taught to bend the bow, to point the arrow, to hurl the tomahawk, and to wield the club. He was instructed to pursue the foosteps of his enemies through the pathless and unexplored forest; to mark the most distant indications of danger; to trace his way by the apz pearances of the trees, and by the stars of heaven, and to endure fatigue, and cold, and famine, and every privation. He commenced his career of · blood by hunting the wild beasts of the woods, and after learning the dexterous use of the weapons of destruction, he lifted his sanguinary arm against his fellow creatures. The profession of a warrior was considered the most illustrious pursuit; their youth looked forward to the time, when they could march against an enemy, with all the avidity of an epicure for the sumptuous dainties of a Heliogabalus. And this martial ardor was continually thwarting the pacific counsels of the elders, and enthralling them in perpetual and devastating wars. With savages in general, this ferocious propensity
* This is the Shawanese pation of Indians, who, under the.. auspices of their prophet, have lately had an engagement with the army under the command of governor Harrison.
was impelled by a blind fury, and was but little regulated by the dictates of skill and judgment; on the contrary, with the Iroquois, war was an art, All their military movements were governed by. system and policy. They never attacked a hostile country, until they had sent out spies to explore and to designate its vulnerable points
, and whenever they encamped, they observed the greatest circumspection to guard against surprize; whereas the other savages only sent out scouts to reconnoitre; but they never went far from the camp, and if they returned without perceiving any signs of an enemy, the whole band went quietly to sleep, and were often the victims of their rash confidence. *
Whatever superiority of force the Iroquois might have, they never neglected the use of stratagems; they employed all the crafty wiles of the Carthaginians. The cunning of the fox, the ferocity of the tiger, and the power of the lion, were united in their conduct. They preferred to vanquish their enemy by taking him off his guard; by involving him in an ambuscade; by falling upon him in the hour of sleep: but when emergencies rendered it necessary for them to face him in the open field of battle, they exhibited a courage and contempt of death which have never been surpassed.
Although we have no reason to believe that they were, generally speaking, Anthropophagi, yet we have no doubt but that they sometimes eat the bodies of their enemies killed in battle, more indeed for the purpose of exciting their ferocious fury than for gratifying their appetite ; like all other - savage nations, they delighted in cruelty. To inflict the most exquisite torture upon their captive; to produce his death by the most severe and pro
* Coden, voh 1. p. 110. 'Heriot, p. 15.
tracted sufferings, was sanctioned by general and immemorial usage. Herodotus infórms us, that the Scythians (who were, in all probability, the ancestors of the greater part of our red men,) drank the blood of their enemies, and suspended their sealps from the bridle of their horses, for a napkin and a trophy; that they used their sculls for drinking vessels, and their skins as a covering to their hor
* In the war between the Carthaginians and their mercenaries, Gisco, a Carthaginian general, and seven hundred prisoners, according to Polybius, were scalped alive; and in return, Spendius, a general of the mercenaries, was crucified, and the prisoners taken in the war thrown alive to the elephants.t From these celebrated nations we may derive the practice of scalping, so abhorrent to humanity, and it is not improbable, considering the maritime skill and distant voyages of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, that America derives part of its population from that source by water, as it undoubtedly has from the northeast parts of Asia by land, with the exception of a narrow strait.
But the Five Nations, notwithstanding their horrible cruelty, are in one respect entitled to singular commendation for the exercise of huinanity : those enemies they spared in battle they made free; whereas, with all other barbarous nations, slavery was the commutation of death. But it becomes not us, if we value the characters of our forefathers; it becomes not the civilized nations of Europe who have had American possessions, to inveigh against the merciless conduct of the savage. His appetite for blood was sharpened and whetted by European instigation, and his cupidity was enlisted on the side of cruelty by every temptation. In the
* Beloe's Herodotus, vol. 2. p. 419. † Polybius, b. 1. chap. 6.
wars between France and England and their colonies, their Indian allies were entitled to a premium for every scalp of an enemy. In the war preceding 1703, the government of Massachusetts gave twelve pounds for every Indian scalp ; in that year the premium was raised to forty pounds, but in 1722 it was augmented to one hundred pounds.* An act was passed on the 25th Febuary, 1745, by our colonial legislature, entitled “ An act for giving a reward for such scalps and prisoners as shall be taken by the inhabitants of (or Indians in alliance with) this colony, and to prevent the inhabitants of the city and county of Albany from selling rum to the Indians.”+ In 1746, the scalps of two Frenchmen were presented to one of our colonial governors at Albany, by three of the confederate Indians; and his excellency, after gratifying them with money and fine clothes, assured them how well he took this special mark of their fidelity, and that he would always remember this act of friendship † The employment of savages, and putting into their hands the scalping knife during our revolutionary war, were openly justified in the House of Lords by Lord Suffolk, the British Secretary of State, who vindicated its policy and necessity, and declared “ that the measure was also allowable on principle; for that it was perfectly justifiable to use all the means that God and nature had put into their hands.": The eloquent rebuke of Lord Chatham has perpetuated the sentiment, and consigned its author to immortal infamy. It were to be wished, for the honour of human nature,
* Douglass' Summary, p. 199. 586. Holmes' American Annals, vol. 2. p. 116. + Journals of Colonial Assembly, vol. 1. p. 95.
Colden, vol. 2. p. 120.
that an impenetrable veil could be drawn over these horrid scenes; but, alas! they are committed to the imperishable pages of history, and they are already recorded with the conflagrations of Smithfield, the massacres of St. Bartholomew, and the cannibal barbarities of the French revolution.
The conquests and military achievements of the Iroquois were commensurate with their martial ardour, their thirst for glory, their great courage, their invincible perseverance, and their political talents. Their military excursions were extended as far north as Hudson's Bay. The Mississippi did not form their western limits; their power was felt in the most southern and eastern extremities of the United States. Their wars have been supposed, by one writer, to have been carried near to the Isthmus of Darien.* And Cotton Mather, in his Magnalia, which was probably written in 1698, describes them as terrible cannibals to the westward, who have destroyed no less than two millions of other savages.t
The ostensible causes of war among the Indians, were like many of those among çivilized nations; controversies about limits, violations of the rights of embassy, individual or national wrongs: And the real and latent reasons were generally the same; the enlargement of territory, the extension of dominion, the gratification of cupidity, and the acquisition of glory. According to a late traveller, a war has existed for two centuries between the Sioux and the Chippewas. For an infraction of the rights of the calumet, the confederates carried on a war of thirty years against the Choctaws. .
* Rogers's America, p. 209.
Ibid. p. 728.