European Americans and Native Americans

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This booklet provides rich knowledge about the history of European Americans and Native Americans. It also covers other valuable information that helps in building the concepts in learning the ancient history of the USA.
1. National Humanities Center Resource Toolbox
Becoming American: The British Atlantic Colonies, 1690-1763
“You know, we are Royal Library of Denmark
different Nations and
have different Ways.”
European Americans and Native Americans
View Each Other, 1700-1775
In British America, there was no greater sense of Otherness
than between Europeans and Native Americans. Both Indians
and Africans represented the "other" to white colonists, but the
Indians held one card denied to the enslaved Africans—
autonomy. As sovereign entities, the Indian nations and the
European colonies (and countries) often dealt as peers. In
trade, war, land deals, and treaty negotiations, Indians held
power and used it. As late as 1755, an English trader asserted
that "the prosperity of our Colonies on the Continent will stand
or fall with our Interest and favour among them."
Here we canvas the many descriptions of Indians by white
colonists and Europeans, and sample the sparse but telling
record of the Native American perspective on Europeans and
their culture in pre-revolutionary eighteenth-century British
America. All come to us, of course, through the white man's eye,
ear, and pen. Were it not for white missionaries, explorers, and
frontier negotiators (the go-betweens known as "wood's men"),
we would have a much sparser record of the Indian response to
colonists and their "civilizing" campaigns.
“The natives, the so-called savages” Philip Georg Friedrich von Reck
2 “The supreme commander of the Yuchi Indian nation,
Francis Daniel Pastorius, Pennsylvania, 1700 whose name is Kipahalgwa”
Pastorius was the founder of German Town, Georgia, 1736
the first German settlement in Pennsylvania.
The natives, the so-called savages . . . they are,
in general, strong, agile, and supple people, with
blackish bodies. They went about naked at first and
wore only a cloth about the loins. Now they are
beginning to wear shirts. They have, usually, coal-
black hair, shave the head, smear the same with
grease, and allow a long lock to grow on the right
side. They also besmear the children with grease
and let them creep about in the heat of the sun, so
that they become the color of a nut, although they
were at first white enough by Nature.
National Humanities Center, 2009: Spelling and punctuation modernized by NHC for clarity. See statement of
Saghughsuniunt, 1762, for context of quotation at top of page. Complete image credits at
Edmond Aitkin, 1755. See footnote 20.
Francis Daniel Pastorius, Circumstantial Geographical Description of Pennsylvania, 1700, including later letters to Germany; in Narratives of Early
Pennsylvania, West New Jersey and Delaware, 1630-1707, ed. Albert Cook Myers (New York: Charles Scribner’s Son, 1912), pp. 384-385.
2. They strive after a sincere honesty, hold strictly to Library Company of Philadelphia
their promises, cheat and injure no one. They willingly
give shelter to others and are both useful and loyal to
their guests. . . .
I once saw four of them take a meal together in hearty
contentment, and eat a pumpkin cooked in clear water,
without butter and spice. Their table and bench was the
bare earth, their spoons were mussel-shells with which
they dipped up the warm water, their plates were the
leaves of the nearest tree, which they do not need to wash
with painstaking after the meal, nor to keep with care of
future use. I thought to myself, these savages have never
in their lives heard the teaching of Jesus concerning
temperance and contentment, yet they far excel the
Christians in carrying it out.
They are, furthermore, serious and of few words, and
are amazed when they perceive so much unnecessary
chatter, as well as other foolish behavior, on the part of
the Christians.
Each man has his own wife, and they detest harlotry, Lenni Lenape (Delaware) family, Pennsylvania
kissing, and lying. They know of no idols, but they in T. C. Holm, A Short Description of
the Province of New Sweden, 1702
worship a single all-powerful and merciful God, who
limits the power of the Devil. They also believe in the
immortality of the soul, which, after the course of life is
finished, has a suitable recompense from the all-powerful
hand of God awaiting it. Robert A. Selig
“It is certain that good talents
are found among them.”
Francis Louis Michel, Virginia, 1702 3
Michel, a visiting Swiss nobleman, attended the colony’s
memorial after the death of King William, an event the
neighboring subdued Indians were expected to attend.
After the celebration was over, I endeavored to sell, as
best I could, whatever remained of my merchandise. I
intended to exchange with the Indians skins and baskets
for powder and knives. . . . A Frenchman and I were
astonished at the baskets and that two of them could speak
English. One of them looked at us and said in poor English
whether we thought that if they had been taught like we,
they could not learn a thing just as well as we. I asked him
where he had learned to speak English. He answered, they
were not so stupid, because they had to come every year, 4 “Drey Americaner” (“Three Americans”), Virginia
they could hear us speak and learnt it that way. It is certain
copy of drawing in Francis Louis Michel,
that good talents are found among them. Short Report of the American Journey . . . , 1702
Francis Louis Michel, Short Report of the American Journey . . . , 1702, in William J. Hinke, ed., trans., “Report of the Journey of Francis Louis Michel
from Berne, Switzerland, to Virginia, October 2, 1701–December 1, 1702,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 24:1-2 (January/April
1916), pp. 129-134.
The Indians were required to attend the annual muster of the state troops (militia).
National Humanities Center 2
3. “They are really better to us than we are to them.” They are really better to us than
we are to them. They always give us
John Lawson, North Carolina, 17095
Victuals at their Quarters, and take
A British naturalist and explorer, Lawson visited many Indian settlements in care we are arm’d against Hunger
the Carolinas and later settled in North Carolina. Just before the outbreak
of the Tuscorara War, he was captured and killed by Tuscarora Indians.
and Thirst. We do not so by them
(generally speaking) but let them
walk by our Doors Hungry, and do
not often relieve them. We look upon them with Scorn and Disdain, and think them little better than
Beasts in Human Shape; though, if well examined, we shall find that for all our Religion and Education
we possess more Moral Deformities and Evils than these Savages do, or are acquainted withal. 5
We reckon them Slaves in Comparison to us, and Intruders, as oft as they enter our Houses, or hunt
near our Dwellings. But if we will admit Reason to be our Guide, she will inform us that these Indians are
the freest People in the World, and so far from being Intruders upon us, that we have abandon’d our own
Native Soil to drive them out and possess theirs. Neither have we any true Balance in Judging of these
poor Heathens, because we neither give Allowance for their Natural Disposition, nor the Sylvian
Education 6 and strange Customs (uncouth to us) they lie under and have ever been train’d up to. . . We
trade with them, it’s true, but to what End? Not to show them the Steps of Virtue and the Golden Rule, to
do as we would be done by. No, we have furnished them with the Vice of Drunkenness, which is the open
Road to all others, and daily cheat them in everything we sell, and esteem it a Gift of Christianity not to
sell to them so cheap as we do to the Christians, as we call ourselves. Pray let me know where is there to
be found one Sacred Command
or Precept of our Master that Burgerbibliothek Bern
counsels us to such Behaviour?
Besides, I believe it will not
appear, but that all the Wars
which we have had with the
Savages were occasion’d by
the unjust Dealings of the
Christians towards them.
“they will seldom injure
a Christian, except if
given cause for it”
Christoph von Graffenried,
North Carolina, 1711 7 Captivity of Lawson, von Graffenried, and an enslaved man by Tuscarora Indians,
1711. Von Graffenried and his slave were released, but Lawson was tortured and
Von Graffenried was co-founder with killed, perhaps because Lawson quarreled with an Indian leader and because
Lawson and others of the New Bern von Graffenried promised gifts and services in return for his release.
settlement in North Carolina.
Pen drawing by Francis Louis Michel, a cofounder of New Bern, North Carolina
I have heard and observed
many more such things among
the Indians. But because so many authors have written about them that my remarks would only pass for
repetition I will not relate more, except to say concerning the cruel and barbarous manner of the Indians,
that they are indeed furious when one angers them; but if one leaves them in peace, does them no harm,
and treats them according to their ways in a friendly and goodhearted manner, they will seldom injure a
John Lawson, A New Voyage to Carolina, 1709; full text in Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill Library, at
Sylvian education, i.e., natural learning in the woodlands.
Baron Christoph von Graffenried, Letter to Gov. Edward Hyde (governor of the colony of North Carolina), 23 October 1711, excerpts. Full text in
website of the Coastal Carolina Indian Center, at
National Humanities Center 3
4. Christian, except if given cause for it. They have occasionally been treated cruelly and badly by the
Christians. I have spoken to many of the Indians about their cruelty, but a sensible king answered me and
gave a nice example of a snake. If one leaves it in its coil untouched, quiet, and uninjured, it will do no
creature harm; but if one disturbs and wounds it, it will bite and wound. And the Spaniards had used their
forefathers too cruelly, yes, very inhumanly. Concerning their, the Indians’ massacres and fighting
treacherously: They had to use their advantage or else they could not hold their own; they were not so
strong in numbers, and were not provided with pieces [firearms], muskets, swords, and all sorts of other
treacherous inventions made with powder to destroy men; likewise they had neither powder nor lead or
else they got them from the Christians themselves; so that our ways were much more treacherous, false,
and harmful; otherwise, we would not use them so cruelly. Moreover we practiced among ourselves the
greatest tyranny and cruelty. Indeed I have experienced this myself.
“if they had been wise enough to make use of the Opportunities”
Rev. Samuel Stoddard, Massachusetts, 1722 8
A Puritan clergyman in Boston, Stoddard published a question-and-answer pamphlet addressing
ethical issues of import to the community, including the colonists’ acquisition of Indian land with little to no payment.
Q[uestion] VIII. DID we any wrong to the Indians in buying their Land at a small price?
A[nswer]. 1. THERE was some part of the Land that was not purchased, neither was there need that it
should ⎯ it was vacuum domicilium; 9 and so might be possessed by virtue of GOD’s grant
to Mankind, Gen. I:28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and
multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea,
and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. The
Indians made no use of it, but for Hunting. By GOD’s first Grant Men were to subdue the
Earth. When Abraham came into the Land of Canaan, he made use of vacant Land as he
pleased: so did Isaac and Jacob.
2. THE Indians were well contented that we should sit down [settle] by them. And it would
have been for great Advantage, both for this World and the Other; if they had been wise
enough to make use of their Opportunities. It has been common with many People, in
planting this World since the Flood, to admit Neighbours, to sit down by them.
3. THO’ we gave but a small Price for what we bought, we gave them their demands. We
came to their Market and gave them their price, and, indeed, it was worth but little. And
had it continued in their hands, it would have been of little value. It is our dwelling on it
and our Improvements that have made it to be of worth.
“we all know that very bright talents may be lodged under a very dark skin”
William Byrd, Virginia, 1728 10
Byrd was a wealthy and influential tobacco planter in Virginia, serving in several positions in the colonial government.
Though these Indians dwell among the English, and see in what plenty a little industry enables them to
live, yet they choose to continue in their stupid idleness and to suffer all the inconveniences of dirt, cold
and want, rather than to disturb their heads with care, or defile their hands with labour.
Rev. Samuel Stoddard, An Answer to Some Cases of Conscience Respecting the Country, Boston, 1722, Question VIII. Accessed through Early
American Imprints online, American Antiquarian Society; permission pending. Two lengthy scriptural footnotes in Stoddard’s piece are omitted here.
“The English believed wholeheartedly in the concept of ‘vacuum domicilium.’ For, ‘it is a principle in nature that in a vacant soyle, hee that taketh
possession of it and bestoweth culture and husbandry upon it has an inviolable right to the land.’” Susan McGowan, “The Landscape in the Colonial
Period,” Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield, Massachusetts, at
William Byrd, The History of the Dividing Line betwixt Virginia and North Carolina, Run in the Year of Our Lord 1728, first published 1841. Full text
online in Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill Library, at
National Humanities Center 4
5. The whole number of people belonging to the Atwater Kent Museum of Art
Nottoway town, if you include women and children,
amount to about two hundred. These are the only
Indians of any consequence now remaining within the
limits of Virginia. The rest are either removed or
dwindled to a very inconsiderable number, either by
destroying one another or else by the small-pox and
other diseases. Though nothing has been so fatal to them
as their ungovernable passion for rum, with which, I am
sorry to say it, they have been but too liberally supplied
by the English that live near them. And here I must
lament the bad success Mr. Boyle’s charity has hitherto
had towards converting any of these poor heathens to
Christianity. Many children of our neighbouring Indians
have been brought up in the college of William and
Mary. They have been taught to read and write, and
have been carefully instructed in the principles of the
Christian religion, till they came to be men. Yet after
they returned home, instead of civilizing and converting
the rest, they have immediately relapsed into infidelity
[paganism] and barbarism themselves.
Lapowinsa and Tishcohan, leaders of the Lenni
And some of them too have made the worst use of the Lenape (Delaware) Indians in Pennsylvania,
knowledge they acquired among the English by were signers of the infamous “Walking Pur-
chase” treaty of 1736 which tricked the Indians
employing it against their benefactors. Besides, as they into ceding far more land than they had anti-
unhappily forget all the good they learn and remember cipated from the treaty’s terms. Although they
the ill, they are apt to be more vicious and disorderly protested the treaty for decades, they did not
than the rest of their countrymen. . . . regain the land. Their portraits were painted in
1735 by Gustavus Hesselius, a Swedish immi-
I am sorry I cannot give a better account of the state grant and Pennsylvania colonist.
of the poor Indians with respect to Christianity, although Tishcohan
a great deal of pains has been and still continues to be
taken with them. For my part, I must be of opinion, as I
hinted before, that there is but one way of converting
these poor infidels and reclaiming them from barbarity,
and that is, charitably to intermarry with them, according
to the modern policy of the most Christian king in
Canada and Louisiana. 11 Had the English done this at the
first settlement of the colony, the infidelity of the Indians
had been worn out at this day, with their dark
complexions, and the country had swarmed with people
more than it does with insects. It was certainly an
unreasonable nicety that prevented their entering into so
good-natured an alliance. All nations of men have the
same natural dignity, and we all know that very bright
talents may be lodged under a very dark skin. The
principal difference between one people and another
proceeds only from the different opportunities of
That is, the King of France.
National Humanities Center 5
6. New York Public Library “In a little time white men
will be dust as well as I.”
Tomachichi, Georgia, 1736 12
A Creek leader who befriended James Oglethorpe in the
early years of the Georgia colony, Tomachichi travelled
to England with Oglethorpe in 1734 where his portrait
was painted with his nephew. After his return to Georgia,
Tomachichi met the young missionary John Wesley.
On another occasion, upon the termination of a
public audience with the Indians, Wesley and the
venerable chief dined with Governor Oglethorpe.
After dinner the missionary asked the gray-headed
old man what he thought he was made for. “He that is
above,” replied the mico [chief], “knows what He
made us for. We know nothing. We are in the dark.
But white men know much, and yet white men build
great houses as if they were to live forever. But white
men cannot live forever. In a little time white men
will be dust as well as I.”
Wesley responded, “If red men will learn the
“Tomo Chachi, Mico or King of Yamacraw, and Tooa- Good Book they may know as much as white men.
nahowi his Nephew, Son to the Mico of the Etchitas But neither we nor you can understand that Book
[Hitchitis],” mezzotint by John Faber from the portrait
painted in England by Willem Verelst, 1734 unless we are taught by Him that is above; and He
will not teach unless you avoid what you already
know is not good.”
“I believe that,” said the Indian. “He will not teach us while our hearts are not white, and our men do
what they know is not good. Therefore He that is above, does not send us the Good Book.”
“They keep their word, and hate lies.”
Philip Georg Friedrich von Reck, Georgia, 1736 13
Von Reck was a leader of the German settlement of Ebenezer, Georgia, founded in 1734.
As strange and wild as the Indians seem superficially, yet when one associates with them, one finds
they are very polite, of natural good understanding, sensible, brief in their conversation and agile and
quick in their behavior. They have sharp sight and can see far into the distance. Their sense of smell is so
sharp that they can smell when enemy Indians are nearby and track and follow them through their smell.
Also they can recognize from footprints in the sand of what [Indian] nation the person was who left the
footprints behind. . . .
They are very courteous, friendly, and hospitable towards strangers, with whom they quickly become
acquainted. Their table is open to everyone, and one can sit at it uninvited. When an Indian want to assure
someone of his friendship, he strikes himself with his right hand on his left breast and says, my breast is
like your breast, my and your breast is one breast ⎯ the equivalent of my and your heart is one heart, my
heart is closely bound with your heart, &c. And it is also a sign of friendship and welcome to light a pipe
of tobacco and hold it up before the arriving stranger so that he can take a couple of draws on it, also to
hold up a bottle of rum, so he can take a swallow from it. If one is not received with these ceremonies,
Journal of John Wesley, publ. 1743, entry of July 1, 1736. Full text online in Christian Classics Ethereal Library, at
Kristian Hvidt, ed., Von Reck’s Voyage: Drawings and Journal of Philip Georg Friedrick von Reck (Savannah, Georgia: The Beehive Press, 1980),
pp. 47-48; permission pending. Von Reck drawings reproduced by permission of the Royal Library of Denmark.
National Humanities Center 6
7. one is not accepted. They love one another, when they are of the same nation. They are satisfied with the
little that they have, even if it consists only of a gun, kettle, and mirror. They keep their word, and hate
lies. When they praise a European, they say that he has never told them an untruth. They are affectionate
and live peaceably with their wives.
But on the other hand they are haughty, especially towards their wives, who are not much better than
slaves. They must wait upon their husband in the house, do all the household work, and they may not eat
with their husband. On the hunt the wife must haul all the baggage and household goods, yet meanwhile
the husband carries only his gun, mirror, shot pouch and sometimes a bottle of brandy. Yet they do all this
so willingly that it seems rather their kind intention than a burden on them. . . They are cruel to their war
captives, and they either take off the skin from the top of their heads, or burn them up while they are still
During all these torments the captive takes care to show a constant undaunted courage, to rebuke his
enemies as cowardly and womanish people for inflicting on him such a womanish death, that he only
laughs at all these torments, that nothing better has previously happened to him, that his death even in this
manner will soon be found out. All this he sings in many songs in order to dispel the death pangs. Some-
times the captive, before he is entirely consumed by fire, is thrown into the river where the boys shoot
arrows at him until he is dead. But the reason they are so cruel is that they hold death itself to be no
punishment and do not fear it. They are treacherous, lie in wait secretly for their adversaries and make
war with ambushes and deception. If an Indian is wronged by a European, he kills him or, which is all the
same to him, another European. From this it may be seen how dangerous it is to offend an Indian and how
soon, through the bad behavior of a single person, an Indian war and the ruin of an entire colony can be
brought about.
Royal Library of Denmark
Philip Georg Friedrich von Reck, “A war dance,” Yuchi Indians, Georgia, 1736. Von Reck went to “Yuchi Town” in July of 1736
to attend the “busk, or annual Indian festivity,” at which a ritual war dance was performed.
National Humanities Center 7
8. The Indians in this Part of America appear to have been
“Monuments of the Anger of some of the least improved of the human Species, without
a righteous God” any Learning or Knowledge in any of the politer Arts of
Life, even without Iron and the Improvements which
Rev. John Callender, Rhode Island,
14 depend on that. The strange Destruction of this People,
now since the Wars ceased, and within Memory, is very
Callender was a prominent Baptist clergyman. remarkable. Their insuperable Aversion to the English
industry and Way of Life, the Alteration from the Indian
Method of living, their Laziness, and their universal Love of Strong Drink, have swept them away in a
wonderful Manner. So that there are now above twenty English to one Indian in the Colony. Their few
miserable Remainders are left, as Monuments of the Anger of a righteous God, . . . 14
Oct. 10th, 1740. The building of our little fort,
“These savages will give us trouble yet.” and the digging of the well within its enclosure,
15 has been a good work. Had it not been for the
Francis Cample, Pennsylvania, 1740
recent killing of young Alex[ande]r Askew, near
An Irish immigrant, Cample settled in the new town
of Shippensburg in the Cumberland Valley. to where Robert McInnis was shot seven years
ago, the friendship of the Indians might not have
been suspected, and this very necessary work might have been postponed until a more serious calamity
would have overtaken us. I have no confidence in the friendship of these savages, and have always felt
that we have been warming a viper which will some day show us its fangs. Our only safety, in my
opinion, depends wholly upon our vigilance and the preparation we make in our defense. . . .
March 10th, 1742. A quarrel occurred last night out at the Spring amongst a party of drunken Indians,
during which four of their cabins were set on fire and burned to the ground. One of the Indians, named
Bright Star, a desperate man, was seriously injured in the fight, and will likely die of his wounds. I saw
him not an hour ago, and considered him then in a dying condition. These savages will give us trouble
yet. 15
Gachradodow in a strong voice, and
“You have your Laws and Customs, so have we.” with a proper action, spoke as
Gachradodow, Pennsylvania, 174416 follows:
Great Assaragoa, The World at the
Gachradodow, a leader of the Iroquois, addressed colonial officials
during negotiations for the Lancaster Treaty of 1744 between the
first was made on the other Side of
Iroquois and the colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.
the Great Water, different from what
it is on this Side, as may be known
from the different Colors of our Skin and of our Flesh, and that which you call Justice may not be so
amongst us. You have your Laws and Customs, and so have we. The Great King might send you over to
conquer the Indians, but it looks to us that God did not approve of it. If he had, he would not have placed
the Sea where it is, as the Limits between us and you. . . . 16
Brother Assaragoa, . . You know very well when the white people came first here, they were poor; but
now they have got lands and are by them become rich, and we are now poor: what little we have had for
the land goes soon away, but the land lasts forever.
John Callender, An Historical Discourse on the Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations in New-
England in America,1739. Accessed through Early American Imprints online, American Antiquarian Society; permission pending.
Kerby A. Miller, et al., eds., Irish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan: Letters and Memoirs from Colonial and Revolutionary America, 1675-1815
(Oxford University Press, 2003); permission pending.
The Lancaster Treaty of 1744, in C. Van Doren & J. P. Boyd, eds., Indian Treaties Printed by Benjamin Franklin, 1736–1762 (Philadelphia: The
Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1938), p. 63; full text online in Early Recognized Treaties with American Nations, from the Center for Digital
Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, at
National Humanities Center 8
9. “We are Indians, and don’t wish to be Philadelphia Museum of Art
transformed into white men.”
Shickellamy, New York, 1745 17
An Oneida leader, Shickellamy expressed his opinion of Christians’
attempts to convert the Indians, as recounted by a Moravian missionary.
We were told that two ministers and an Indian had been
lately here ⎯ probably it was the Presbyterian [David]
Brainerd and his interpreter Tatami. He had assembled the
Delawares in Shikellmy’s house, and (as Shikellmy’s people
told us) informed that that on Sundays they should assemble
as the whites do and pray as they do. Hence he would build a
house for that purpose, and stay with them two years. . . To
this Shikellmy said: “We are Indians, and don’t wish to be
transformed into white men. The English are our Brethren,
but we never promised to become what they are. As little as
we desire the preacher to become Indian, so little ought he to
desire the Indians to become preachers. He should not build
a house here, they don’t want one.” They departed for
Philadelphia the next day. Shikellamy, portrait by unknown artist,
ca. 1820 (detail)
“They are almost always engaged in war.”
Royal Library of Denmark
Rev. Johann Martin Bolzius, Georgia, 1750 18
A founder of the German settlement of Ebenezer in Georgia, Bolzius published
a pamphlet to inform other Germans considering emigration to America.
4th Question. Whether the natives of the land are very
numerous, and whether very barbaric, and whether
trouble is to be feared from them.
Answer. It has been noticed that the natives of the land (called
Indians) have since the arrival of the Europeans not only retired
farther into the mountains towards the northwest, but also by an
unknown law of God continuously decreased in number.
Among themselves they are almost always engaged in war, and
kill one another. Several tribes are still said to be rather
numerous; these are allied with the English, and as allies
receive as presents from Carolina and Georgia every year three
thousand pounds worth of all kinds of goods used among them.
They are very barbarous toward one another and toward
Europeans in times of war. They torture prisoners to death
slowly in an unspeakable way. As long as there is peace among
England, Spain, and France, little is to be feared from them, but
in times of war they are provoked by French and Spanish
emissaries to break with the English, which God however has
prevented until now. . . The more Europeans come into the von Reck, “The Indian King . . . of
land, the less one is afraid of them. the Yuchis,” Georgia, 1736
”Bishop A. G. Spangenberg’s Journal of a Journey to Onandaga in 1745,” in Moravian Journals Relating to Central New York, 1745-66, ed. Rev.
William M. Beauchamp, S.T.D., for the Onandaga Historical Association (Syracuse, NY: Dehler Press, 1916), p. 7.
Rev. Johann Martin Bolzius, Reliable Answer to Some Submitted Questions Concerning the Land Carolina in Which Answer, However, Regard Is
Also Paid at the Same Time to the Condition of the Colony of Georgia, 1750; published in The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series, 14:2 (April
1957), pp. 218-261; translated and edited by Klaus G. Loewald, Beverly Starika, and Paul S. Taylor. Reproduced by permission of The William and
Mary Quarterly. Von Reck drawings reproduced by permission of the Royal Library of Denmark.
National Humanities Center 9
10. 5th Question. Whether it is true that they eat people.
Answer. In Florida there are some Spanish Indians of whom it is said that they eat people. At least they are very
barbaric. But there are very few of them, and they are hunted for their lives by the other Indians.
6th Question. Whether they have their own kings, or whether they are subjects of the English.
Answer. It may be said and written that they have kings, but they are nothing except chiefs in war, namely the most
courageous and daring, also possibly the most reasonable. Otherwise they cannot order the other Indians
around. He who has the most followers achieves most among the Indians and has something like an honorary
title. They are not subjects of the English, but consider themselves noble-men and allies of the English.
. . . [O]ur six nations [Iroquois] may be now thus
“What benefits they receive, characterized: they are a subtle, prudent, and judicious
they ascribe to a divine power.” people in their councils, indefatigable, crafty, and
John Bartram, Pennsylvania, 1751 19 revengeful in their wars, the men lazy and indolent at
home, the women continual slaves, modest, very loving,
Considered America’s first major botanist,
Bartram travelled throughout the British colonies. and obedient to their husbands. As to the natural
disposition of these Nations, they are grave, solid, and still
in their recreations, as well as in their councils. . . .
Their religious notions are very confused and much mixed with superstition. Yet they seem not only to
acknowledge a deity, but even to worship him in unity and spirit. What benefits they receive, they ascribe
to a divine power. They have strange notions of spirits, conjuration, and witchcraft: these are agreeable to
their blindness and want of proper education among them, . . . 19
Brother, We speak to you as if we spoke to your
“Your mouth is of sugar but Governor of Boston. We hear on all sides that this Governor
your heart of gall.” and the Bostonians say that the Abenakis are bad people. ’Tis
Atiwaneto, French Canada, 1752 20 in vain that we are taxed [accused] with having a bad heart. It
is you, brother, that always attack us. Your mouth is of sugar
The Abenaki leader Atiwaneto explained
to a colonial official the Indians’ decision
but your heart of gall. In truth, the moment you begin we are
to leave British territory in New England on our guard. 20
and settle in French Canada. Brothers, We tell you that we seek not war. We ask
nothing better than to be quiet, and it depends, brothers, only
on you English to have peace with us. . . We acknowledge no other boundaries of yours than your settle-
ments whereon you have built, and we will not, under any pretext whatsoever, that you pass beyond them.
The lands we possess have been given us by the Master of Life. We acknowledge to hold only from him.
The importance of Indians is now generally known and
“When they are our Friends . . . understood. A Doubt remains not that the prosperity of our
when Enemies . . .” Colonies will stand or fall with our Interest and favour
Edmond Aitken, 175521 among them. When they are our Friends, they are the
Cheapest and strongest Barrier for the Protection of our
A southern fur trader, Aitken was commissioned
by the British Board of Trade to compile a report Settlements; when Enemies, they are capable of ravaging
on Indian affairs with his recommendations. in their methods of War, in spite of all we can do to render
those Possessions almost useless. 21
John Bartram, Observations on the Inhabitants, Climate, Soil, Rivers . . . Made by Mr. John Bartram, in His Travels from Pensilvania to Onondago,
Oswego and the Lake Ontario, in Canada . . . , London: 1751. Full text online in Early Canadiana Online at
Statement to Phineas Stevens, Abenaki Conference of 1752, Montreal, in John R. Brodhead, ed., Documents Related to the History of Colonial
New York, 10 vols, 1853-1858; vol. 10, pp. 252-254.
Wilbur R. Jacobs, ed., The Appalachian Indian Frontier: The Edmond Aitken Report and Plan of 1755 (University of Nebraska Press, 1967), pp. 7-8.
National Humanities Center 10
11. Shingas, King Beaver, Delaware George, and
“We love you more than you love us.” Pisquetumen, with several other captains said to
Delaware leaders, Ohio River Valley, 175821 me, “. . . All our young men, women and children
Allied with the French during the French and Indian War, are glad to see you. Before you came, they all
Delaware leaders explained their position to a British agreed together to go and join the French, but since
colonial negotiator whom they knew well.
they have seen you they all draw back, though we
have great reason to believe you intend to drive us
away and settle the country, or else why do you come to fight in the land that God has given us?” 22
I said we did not intend to take the land from them, only to drive the French away. They said they
knew better, for that they were informed so by our greatest traders, and some Justices of the Peace had
told them the same, and the French, said they, tell us much the same thing ⎯ “that the English intend to
destroy us and take our lands” ⎯ but the land is ours, and not theirs. Therefore we say, if you will be at
peace with us, we will send the French home. It is you that have begun the war, and it is necessary that
you hold fast and be not discouraged in the work of peace. We love you more than you love us, for when
we take any prisoners from you, we treat them as our own children. We are poor, and yet we clothe them
as well as we can, though you see our children are as naked as at the first. By this you may see that our
hearts are better than yours. It is plain that you white people are the cause of this war. Why do not you
and the French fight in the old country, and on the sea? Why do you come to fight on our land? This
makes everybody believe you want to take the land from us by force, and settle it.
I told them, “Brothers, as for my part, I have not one foot of land nor do I desire to have any; and if I
had any land, I had rather give it to you than take any from you. . . .”
They said, “Brother, your heart is good. You speak always sincerely, but we know there are always a
great number of people that want to get rich; they
never have enough. Look, we do not want to be Library of Congress
rich and take away that which others have. . .
Look now, my brother, the white people think we
have no brains in our heads, but that they are great
and big, and that makes them make war with us.
We are but a little handful to what you are, but
remember, when you look for a wild turkey you
cannot always find it, it is so little it hides itself
under the bushes, and when you hunt for a
rattlesnake you cannot find it, and perhaps it will
bite you before you see it. However, since you are
so great and big, and we so little, do you use your
greatness and strength in completing this work of
peace? This is the first time that we saw or heard
of you since the war begun, and we have great
reason to think about it, since such a great body of
you comes into our lands. It is told us that you and
the French contrived the war to waste the Indians
between you, and that you and the French
intended to divide the land between you. This was
told us by the chief of the Indian traders; and they
said further, brothers, this is the last time we shall Typical representation of Indians in European maps;
come among you; for the French and the English detail of map cartouche in J. B. Homann, Amplissima
regionis Mississipi . . . , Germany, 1764?
intend to kill all the Indians, and then divide the
land among themselves.”
Christian Frederick Post, Two Journals of Western Tours . . . one to the neighborhood of Fort Duquesne (July-September, 1758); the other, to the
Ohio (October 1758-January, 1759), in Reuben G. Thwaites, ed., Early Western Travels (Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark, 1904), vol. 1, pp. 213-216. Full
text online in American Notes: Travels in America, 1750-1920, in American Memory, Library of Congress, at
National Humanities Center 11
12. Englishman, it is to you that I speak, and I demand your
“We are not your slaves.” attention!
Minavavana, French Canada, Englishman, you know that the French king is our father. . . it is
176123 you that have made war with this, our father. You are his enemy,
Minavavana, a Chippewa leader in French and how then could you have the boldness to venture among us,
Canada, declared the Indians’ position after his children? You know that his enemies are ours. . . .
the British conquest of French Canada.
Englishman, although you have conquered the French, you have
not yet conquered us! We are not your slaves. These lakes, these
woods and mountains were left to us by our ancestors. They are our inheritance, and we will part with
them to none. Your nation supposes that we, like the white people, cannot live without bread ⎯ and pork
⎯ and beef! But you ought to know that He, the Great Spirit and master of Life, has provided food for us
in these spacious lakes and on these woody mountains. 23
Feb. 2, 1762. Frederick Post [Moravian missionary] says that
“They will hear to reason the Indians are void of Reason, but I find that in many cases
they will hear to reason & allow it to be right, . . .
& allow it to be right.”
James Kenny, Pennsylvania, 176224 Sept. 17, 1762. The Delawares are mightily pleas’d that I
have preferr’d their Tongue in learning most if it so that I can
Kenny managed a trading store established
by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs converse a little with them. One of them told me in Weighing
in western Pennsylvania. his Skins that I must not Cheat or it would offend the Good
Spirit above. I told him I would not & that he should mind
the Same Rule. 24
At this place we met with an Indian trader lately come
“thereby deprived of from Wyoming [a frontier settlement in Pennsylvania]. In
the use of reason” conversation with him, I perceived that many white
people often sell rum to the Indians, which I believe is a
John Woolman, Pennsylvania, 176225 great evil. In the first place, they are thereby deprived of
An itinerant Quaker preacher, John Woolman the use of reason, and, their spirits being violently
was troubled by the indiscriminate sale agitated, quarrels often arise which end in mischief, and
of white man’s liquor to the Indians.
the bitterness and resentment occasioned hereby are
frequently of long continuance. Again, their skins and
furs, gotten through much fatigue and hard travels in hunting, with which they intended to buy clothing,
they often sell at a low rate for more rum, when they become intoxicated; and afterward, when they suffer
for want of the necessaries of life, are angry with those who, for the sake of gain, took advantage of their
weakness. 25
Their chiefs have often complained of this in their treaties with the English. Where cunning people
pass counterfeits and impose on others that which is good for nothing, it is considered as wickedness; but,
for the sake of gain to sell that which we know does people harm, and which often works their ruin,
manifests a hardened and corrupt heart, and is an evil which demands the care of all true lovers of virtue
to suppress.
Alexander Henry, Travels and Adventures in the Years 1760-1776 , ed. M. M. Quaife (Chicago: R. R. Donnelley, 1921), pp. 43-45.
James Kenny, Journal, 1761-1763. Excerpts in website of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania at
Journal of John Woolman, publ. 1774, full text online in the Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia, at
National Humanities Center 12
13. Brother . . . When I used to go to War with
“I am of a quite different Nature from you.” the Southern Indians and brought Prisoners
Saghughsuniunt, Pennsylvania, 176226 Home, I thought they were mine and that
Saghughsuniunt, an Oneida leader whose English name
nobody had any Right to meddle with
was Thomas King, explained the different concepts of war them. Now since I joined with you, I went
prisoner held by Indians and Europeans. (He also mentions to War again and I brought French People
the difficulties caused by the need to translate multiple Home with me, as Prisoners, and you took
languages in Indian-European meetings.)
them from me. This makes me think it was
owing to the Evil Spirit. 26
Brother, I desire you to be strong. I have heard you often say you would be very glad if I would bring you
the Captives, and you would make me Satisfaction because you know I am not as you are. I am of a
quite different Nature from you. Sometimes I think you are not in Earnest with me, in telling me you
will make me Satisfaction. . . .
Brother, You know we are different Nations and have different Ways. We could not immediately perform
what you required of us in returning your Flesh and Blood, because every one of these Nations have
different Ways. That is the Reason why we could not so soon perform it.
Brother, I am sorry it is so difficult for us to understand each other. If we could understand one another,
we would put one another in Mind of the Friendship that subsisted between us and our Forefathers,
but as we do not easily understand one another, we are obliged to deliver you the Substance in short
of what we have to say, which makes it tedious. ⎯⎯ (Meaning that they are obliged to interpret in
two or three Languages before it is told to us.) . . .
Brother Onas, You have been requiring your Flesh and Blood these three Years. I promise you I will give
you them, and now I will deliver all I have brought.
Brother Onas, I am sorry we cannot speak to one another any faster, because we cannot understand one
another without so many Interpreters, and this takes up much Time, so that we must be slow in
telling our Business.
The scene I mean was the arrival of the prisoners
“They exercise virtues which in the camp, where were to be seen fathers and
Christians need not blush to imitate.” mothers recognizing and clasping their once-lost
babes, husbands hanging round the necks of their
Military accounts, Ohio, 176427 newly-recovered wives, sisters and brothers
The Indians’ return of war captives after the French unexpectedly meeting together after long separation,
and Indian War was described by historian
William Smith, based on military accounts.
scarce able to speak the same language, . . . 27
The Indians, too, as if wholly forgetting their
usual savageness . . . delivered up their beloved captives with the utmost reluctance, shed torrents of tears
over them, recommending them to the care and protection of the commanding officer. Their regard to
them continued all the time they remained in camp. They visited them from day to day, and brought them
what corn, skins, horses and other matters they had bestowed on them while in their families; accom-
panied with other presents and all the marks of the most sincere and tender affection. Nay, they did not
stop here, but, when the army marched, some of the Indians solicited and obtained leave to accompany
their former captives all the way to Fort Pitt, and employed themselves in hunting and bringing provisions
for them on the road. . . .
Minutes of Conferences, Held at Lancaster [Pennsylvania], in August, 1762. With the Sachems and Warriors of several Tribes of Northern and
Western Indians (Philadelphia, printed by Benjamin Frankin, 1763), p. 16. Accessed through Early American Imprints online, American Antiquarian
Society; permission pending.
William Smith, An Historical Account of the Expedition against the Ohio Indians in the Year 1764 under the Command of Henry Bouquet . . . , 1766,
pp. 27-28; full text online in The First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820; in American Memory, Library of Congress, at memory.loc.
National Humanities Center 13
14. New York Public Library
Those qualities in savages challenge our just
esteem. They should make us charitably
consider their barbarities as the effects of wrong
education and false notions of bravery and
heroism, while we should look on their virtues
as sure marks that nature has made them fit
subjects of cultivation as well as us, and that we
are called by our superior advantages to yield
them all the helps we can in this way. Cruel and
unmerciful as they are by habit and long
example in war, yet whenever they come to give
way to the native dictates of humanity, they
exercise virtues which Christians need not blush
to imitate.
“They are all equal.”
James Adair, 1775 28
An Irish immigrant, Adair became a trader with Indians in
the southern colonies and lived with the Chickasaw in the
Mississippi River valley for six years.
They are all equal ⎯ the only precedence
any gain is by superior virtue, oratory, or
prowess; and they esteem themselves bound to
“The Indians delivering up the English Captives to Colonel live and die in defense of their country. . . . The
Bouquet near his Camp at the Forks of Muskingum in North
America in 1764,” in An Historical Account of the Expedition head-men reward the worthy with titles of
against the Ohio Indians . . . , 1766 honor, according to their merit in speaking or
the number of enemies’ scalps they bring home.
Their hearts are fully satisfied if they have
revenged crying blood, enobled themselves by war actions, given cheerfulness to their mourning country,
and fired the breasts of the youth with a spirit of emulation to guard the beloved people from danger, and
revenge the wrongs of their country. Warriors are to protect all, but not to molest or injure the meanest. If
they attempted it, they would pay dear for their folly. . . .
The equality among the Indians, and the just rewards they always confer on merit, are the great and
leading ⎯ the only motives that warm their hearts with a strong and permanent love to the country.
Governed by the plain and honest law of nature, their whole constitution breathes nothing but liberty.
James Adair, The History of the American Indians . . . (London: E&C Dilly, 1775), pp. 378-379; full text online in The First American West: The Ohio
River Valley, 1750-1820; in American Memory, Library of Congress, at
National Humanities Center 14