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clared void in March, 1788, by the authorities of the state; and when their true character was made known to the Indians; when they found that their country, in which were interred the bones of their ancestors, was sacrificed to the overreaching eupidity of unauthorized speculators, the greatest anxiety and consternation prevailed among them. The Senecas and Cayugás repaired to Albany to confer with the governor; but having no speaker at that time of sufficient eminence and talents for the important occasion, they employed Good Peter, or Doinine Peter, the Cicero of the Six Nations, to be their orator, and he addressed the governor and other commissioners in a speech of great length and ability: it was replete with figurative language; the topics were selected with great art and judgment; I took down the speech from the mouth of the interpreter; and notwithstanding the imperfect interpretation of Mr. Kirkland, consider it a rare specimen of Indian eloquence.*
Within a few years, an extraordinary orator has risen among the Senecas; his real name is Saguoaha, but he is commonly called Red Jacket. Without the advantages of illustrious descent, and with no extraordinary talents for war, he has attained the first distinctions in the nation, by the force of his eloquence. His predecessor, in the honours of the nation, was a celebrated chief, denominated The Cornplanter. Having lost the confidence of his countrymen, in order, as it is supposed, to retrieve his former tsanding, he persuaded his brother to announce himself as a prophet, or messenger from Heaven, sent to redeem the fallen fortunes of the Indian race. The superstition of the savages cherished the impostor; and he has acquired such an ascendancy, as to prevail upon the Onondagas,
* Appendix, No. 3.
formerly the most drunken and profligate of the Six Nations, to abstain entirely from spirituous liquors, and to observe the laws of naorality in other respects. He has obtained the same ascendancy among the Confederates, as another impostor had acquired among the Shawanese and other western Indians; and, like him, he has also employed his influence for evil, as well as for good purposes,
The Indians universally believe in witchcraft; the prophet inculcated this superstition, and proceeded, through the instrumentality of conjurers selected by himself, to designate the offenders, who were accordingly sentenced to death. And the unhappy objects would have been actually executed, if the magistrates at Oneida, and the officers of the garrison at Niagara, had not interfered. This was considered an artful expedient to render his enemies the objects of general abhorrence, if not the victims of an ignominious death. Emboldened by success, he proceeded, finally, to execute the views of his brother, and Red Jacket was publicly denounced at a great council of Indians, held at Buffaloe Creek, and was put upon his trial. At this crisis he well knew that the future colour of his life depended upon the powers of his mind. He spoke in his defence for near three hours. The iron brow of superstition relented under the magic of his eloquence: he declared the prophet an imposter and a cheat; he prevailed ; the Indians divided, and a small majority appeared in his favour. Perhaps the annals of history cannot furnish a more conspicuous instance of the triunph and power of oratory, in a barbarous na tion, devoted to superstition, and looking up to the accuser as a delegated minister of the Almighty.
I am well aware that the speech of Logan will be triumphantly quoted against me; and that it will be said, that the most splendid exhibition of Indian eloquence may be found out of the pale of the Six Nations. I fully subscribe to the eulogium of Mr. Jefferson, when he says, “I may challenge the whole orations of Demosthenes and Cicero, and of any more eminent orator, if Europe has furnished more eminent, to produce a single passage superior to the speech of Logan.” But let it be remembered that Logan was a Mingo chief, the second son of Shikellemus, a celebrated Cayuga chief, and consequently belonged to the Confederates, although he did not live in their patrimonial territory. The Iroquois had sent out several colonies; one of them was settled at Sandusky, and was estimated to contain three hundred warriors, in 1768. Another was established on a branch of the Scioto, and had sixty warriors in 1779.*
To this I may add the testimony of Charlevoix, who may be justly placed in the first rank of able and learned writers on American affairs, and who entertained all the prejudices of his country against the confederacy. Speaking of Joncaire, who had been adopted by the Senecas, and who had obtain
ed their consent for the establishment of a fort at · Niagara, he says, " Il parla avec tout l'esprit d'un
François, qui en a beaucoup et la plus sublime eloquence Iroquoise.” He spoke with all the energetic spirit of a Frenchman, and with the most sublime eloquence of an Iroquois.
It cannot, I presume, be doubted, but that the Confederates were a peculiar and extraordinary people, contradistinguished from the mass of the Indian nations by great attainments in polity, in government, in negotiation, in eloquence, and in
* Jeffersou's Notes.
| Charlevoix, letter 15. p. 243. Quere. Is this the Captaia Joncaire who is mentioned in General (then Colonel) Washington's Journal of his mission to the Obio? See Marshal's Life of Washington, vol. 2. note. 1.
La Hontan asserts that “they are of a larger stature, and withal, more valiant and cunning than the other nations."* Charlevoix derives their namne of Agonnonsioni, from their superior skill and taste in architecture. The perspicacious and philosophical Pennant, after fully weighing their character, qualities, and physical conformation, pronounced them the descendants of the Tschutski, who reside on a peninsula, which forms the most northeasterly part of Asia; who are a free and brave race; and, in size and figure, superior to every neighbouring nation. The Russians have never been able to effect their conquest. They cherish a high sense of liberty; constantly refuse to pay tribute; and are supposed to have sprung from that fine race of Tartars, the Kabardinski, or inhabitants of Kabarda.I
But there is a striking discrimination between this nation and the great body of the Indian tribes, · which remains to be mentioned. Charlevoix has
the singular merit of having rejected the common mode of ascertaining the identity of national origin, from a coincidence in customs and manners; and of having pointed out a similarity of language as the best and the surest criterion. As far back as La Hon tan, whose voyages were published in 1703, and who was well acquainted with the Indian languages, it was understood by him, that there were but two mother tongues, the Huron and the Algonkin, in the whole extent of Canada, as far west as the Mississippi ; and in a list which he gives of the Indian nations, it appears that they all spoke the Algonkin language in different dialects, except the Hurons and the Confederates; the difference between whose languages, he considers as not greater
* Vol. 2. p. 4.
Charlevoix, vol. 1. b. 6. p. 271.
than that between the Norman and the French This opinion has been supported and confirmed by the concurring testimony of Carver, Charlevoix, Rogers, Barton, Edwards, Mackenzie, and Pike, with these qualifications, that the Sioux, or Naudowessies, and the Assiniboils, together with many nations of Indians to the west of the Mississippi, speak-a distinct original language; and it is not perfectly settled, whether the Creeks, and the other southern Indians in their vicinity, use a parent language; or under which of the three great parent ones theirs must be classed. Carver speaks of the Chippewa ; Edwards, of the Mohegan; Barton, of the Delaware; Rogers, of the Ottaway, as the most prevailing language in North America; but they all agree in the similarity. Dr. Edwards asserts, that the language of the Delawares, in Pennsylvania; of the Penobscots, bordering on Nova Scotia ; of the Indians of St. Francis, in Canada; of the Shawanese, on the Ohio ; of the Chippewas, at the westward of Lake Huron; of the Ottawas, Nanticockes, Munsees, Minonionees, Misiuagues, Sasskies, Ottagamies, Killestones, Mipegois, Algonkins, Winnebagoes; and of the several tribes in NewEngland, are radically the same; and the variations are to be accounted for from the want of letters, and of communication. On the other hand, that the Confederates and the Hurons were originally of the same stock, may be inferred, not only from the sameness of their language, but from their division into similar tribes.* From this, we may
Trumbull's Connecticut, vol. ). p. 43. Henry's Travels in Canada, p. 250. 299. 325. Carver's Travels, p. 170. Mackenzie's Voyages, p. 280. Charlevoix, vol. 3. letters 11th and 12th. Jeffery's Natural and Civil History of the French Dominions in North and South America, p. 45. 50. Roger's North America, P: 246. Barton's View, p. 470. Pike's Expedition, p. 65. Edwards' Observations on the Language of the Muhbekanew Indians. La Hontan's New Voyages, vol. 1. p. 270. vol. 2. p. 287.