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The Iroquois Confederacy urges
the colonists to unite

Our wise forefathers established Union and Amity be-
tween the Five Nations. This has made us formidable;
this has given us great Weight and Authority with our
neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy;
and by your observing the same methods, our wise
forefathers have taken, you will acquire such Strength
and power. Therefore whatever befalls you, never fall out
with one another [emphasis added].

               --Canassatego, Lancaster
     Treaty Council, 1744[1]

While the seventeenth century saw academic interest in the native democracies of North America through thinkers such as John Locke, the eighteenth century was a time when direct experience with American Indian leaders and their political systems became common on both sides of the Atlantic. The eighteenth century was a period of struggle between the empires of France and England, and the Iroquois and other native nations played a crucial role in this struggle. During King George's war, the colonists needed Iroquois support against the French. Ironically, many of the United States' founders got their initial exposure to Iroquois and other native leaders and the political systems within which they operated from diplomacy and other activities at the behest of Britain, beginning two generations before the Revolutionary War.

Beginning nearly two generations before the Revolutionary War, the circumstances of diplomacy arrayed themselves so that opinion leaders of the English colonies and the Iroquois Confederacy were able to meet together to discuss the politics of alliance -- and confederation. Beginning in the early 1740s, Iroquois leaders strongly urged the colonists to form a federation similar to their own. The Iroquois' immediate practical objective was unified management of the Indian trade and prevention of fraud. The Iroquois also stressed that the colonies should have to unify as a condition of alliance in the continuing "cold war" with France.

This set of circumstances brought Benjamin Franklin into the diplomatic equation. He first read the Iroquois' urgings to unite as a printer of Indian treaties. By the early 1750s, Franklin was more directly involved in diplomacy itself, at the same time that he became an early, forceful advocate of colonial union. All of these circumstantial strings were tied together in the summer of 1754, when colonial representatives, Franklin among them, met with Iroquois sachems at Albany to address issues of mutual concern, and to develop the Albany Plan of Union, a design that echoes both English and Iroquois precedents which would become a rough draft for the Articles of Confederation a generation later.

In 1742, Pennsylvania officials met with Iroquois sachems in council at Lancaster to secure Iroquois alliance against the threat of French encroachment. Canassatego, an Iroquois sachem, spoke on behalf of the Six Nations to the Pennsylvania officials. He confirmed the "League of Friendship" that existed between the two parties and stated that "we are bound by the strictest leagues to watch for each other's preservation."[2]

Two years later, Canassatego would go beyond pledging friendship to the English colonists. At Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1744, the great Iroquois chief advised the assembled colonial governors on Iroquois concepts of unity (see figure 10):

Our wise forefathers established Union and Amity between the Five Nations. This has made us formidable; this has given us great Weight and Authority with our neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and by your observing the same methods, our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire such Strength and power. Therefore whatever befalls you, never fall out with one another. [3, emphasis added]

Richard Peters provided this word-portrait of Canassatego at Lancaster: "a tall, well-made man," with "a very full chest and brawny limbs, a manly countenance, with a good-natired [sic] smile. He was about sixty years of age, very active, strong, and had a surprising liveliness in his speech."[4] Dressed in a scarlet camblet coat and a fine, gold-laced hat, Canassatego is described by historical observers such as Peters as possessing an awesome presence which turned heads whenever he walked into a room (see figure 11).

Figure 10

Figure 10. "Our wise forefathers established Union and Amity between the Five Nations. This has made us formidable; this has given us great Weight and Authority with our neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and by your observing the same methods, our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire such Strength and power. Therefore, whatever befalls you, never fall out with one another." By John Kahionhes Fadden.

Franklin likely first learned of Canassatego's 1744 advice to the colonies as he set his words in type. It was Franklin's press that issued Indian treaties in small booklets that enjoyed a lively sale throughout the colonies. Beginning in 1736, Franklin published Indian treaty accounts on a regular basis until the early 1760s, when his defense of Indians under assault by frontier settlers cost him his seat in the Pennsylvania Assembly. Franklin subsequently served the colonial government in England.

Canassatego's admonition would echo throughout the colonies for over a generation, and it would be used not only as a rallying point against French colonial designs but also against British tyranny. In 1747, the royal governor, George Clinton of New York, observed that most American democratic leaders "were ignorant, illiterate people of republican principle who have no knowledge of the English Constitution or love for their country." Clearly, these unread Americans were gaining a new identity and a sense of freedom from the American environment and its native peoples long before the outbreak of the American Revolution.[5]

Figure 11

Figure 11. Canassatego. By John Kahionhes Fadden.

A major figure in this intellectual transference was Tiyanoga, a Mohawk sachem the British called Hendrick. For over fifty years, Hendrick was a man who knew both Iroquois and English cultures well. Hendrick converted to Christianity and became a Mohawk preacher sometime after 1700.[6] As he gained prominence around Albany, New York, Hendrick became increasingly interested in English life and manners. In 1710, he became famous as one of the four "kings" that were received at the Court of Queen Anne. He was painted by John Verelst and called the "Emperor of the Five Nations." This trip was an enlightening experience for Hendrick. Upon his return, Hendrick became a man of "spirit and striking force" in colonial affairs.[7]

Although Hendrick was controversial, he was perhaps the most important individual link in a chain of alliance that saved the New York frontier and probably New England from the French in the initial stages of the Seven Year's War, which was called the French and Indian War in North America. Hendrick died at the Battle of Lake George in 1755, where Sir William Johnson defeated Baron Dieskau. But through his sacrifice he had set the stage for the subsequent defeat of the French by the British in North America. A year earlier, Hendrick had attended the conference at Albany that framed the Articles of Union of 1754.[8] For both military and philosophical reasons, Hendrick should be considered one of the founders of the United States.

During the decade between Canassatego's admonition of unity and the Albany Congress, tension between England and France intensified. News of George Washington's defeat at Fort Necessity in Pennsylvania reached the colonists during the Albany Congress, shattering English prestige in North America, and making alliance with the Iroquois all the more necessary as the stormclouds of the Seven Year's War began to form on the horizon. French expansion into the Ohio country had to be thwarted.

All diplomatic roads during this decade seem to lead ultimately to Albany.[9] Even before the Albany Conference, Benjamin Franklin had been musing over the words of Canassatego.[10] Using Iroquois examples of unity, Franklin sought to shame the reluctant colonists into some form of union in 1751 when he engaged in a hyperbolic racial slur (actually subsequent evidence will show that Franklin had a healthy respect for the Iroquois):

It would be a strange thing . . . if Six Nations of Ignorant savages should be capable of forming such an union and be able to execute it in such a manner that it has subsisted for ages and appears indissoluble, and yet that a like union should be impractical for ten or a dozen English colonies, to whom it is more necessary and must be more advantageous, and who cannot be supposed to want an equal understanding of their interest. [11]

On May 9, 1753, Franklin wrote a long letter to his friend Peter Collinson detailing the manners and customs of American Indians and how they appealed to colonial Americans. Franklin wrote that Indian children brought up in colonial society readily returned to their people when they make but "one Indian ramble with them." However, Franklin observed that

when white persons of either sex have been taken prisoners young by Indians, and lived a while among them, tho' ransomed by their friends . . . [they] take the first good opportunity of escaping again into the woods, from whence there is no reclaiming them. [12]

Franklin also wrote of "the Great Council" at "Onondago" in this letter and how the Six Nations educated their men in "what was the best manner."[13] Clearly, Franklin was fascinated by Native American ideas and customs by the 1750s.

In October of 1753, Franklin, early in a distinguished diplomatic career that would later make him the United States' premier envoy in Europe, attended a treaty council at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. At this treaty with the Iroquois and Ohio Indians (Twightees, Delawares, Shawnees and Wyandots), Franklin absorbed the rich imagery and ideas of the Six Nations at close range. On October 1, 1753, he watched the Oneida chief, Scarrooyady, and a Mohawk, Cayanguileguoa, condole the Ohio Indians for their losses against the French. Franklin listened while Scarrooyady recounted the origins of the Great Law to the Ohio Indians (see figure 12):

We must let you know, that there was a friendship established by our and your Grandfathers, and a mutual Council fire was kindled. In this friendship all those then under the ground, who had not yet obtained eyes or faces (that is, those unborn) were included; and it was then mutually promised to tell the same to their children and children's children. [14]

Having condoled the Ohio Indians, Scarrooyady exhorted the assembled Indians to "preserve this Union and Friendship, which has so long and happy continued among us. Let us keep the chain from rusting."[15]

Figure 12

Figure 12. In 1753, Benjamin Franklin observed an Iroquois Condolence Ceremony. By John Kahionhes Fadden.

The next day, the Pennsylvania Commissioners (including Franklin) presented a wampum belt that portrayed the union between the Iroquois and Pennsylvania. The speech echoed the words of Canassatego spoken a decade earlier at Lancaster. The speech to the assembled Indians recalled the need for unity and a strong defense.

[C]ast your eyes towards this belt, whereon six figures are . . . holding one another by the hands. This is a just resemblance of our present union. The first five figures representing the Five Nations [and] the sixth . . . the government of Pennsylvania; with whom you are linked in a close and firm union. In whatever part the belt is broke, all the wampum runs off, and renders the whole of no strength or consistency. In like manner, should you break faith with one another, or with this government, the union is dissolved. We would therefore hereby place before you the necessity of preserving your faith entire to one another, as well as to this government. Do not separate; Do not part of any score. Let no differences nor jealousies subsist a moment between Nation and Nation, but join together as one man. [16]

Franklin and the other colonial delegates were engaged on one level in practical diplomacy; on another, they were absorbing Iroquois concepts of unity along with their urgings to confederate in a league similar to the Iroquois'. Scarrooyady took for granted that the Pennsylvanians had some knowledge of the Great Law's workings when he requested that they "lay all our present transactions before the council at Onondago, that they may know we do nothing in the dark."[17]

Franklin's knowledge of the Iroquois Confederacy appears in his letters to the noted scientist, political figure and Iroquois scholar Cadwallader Colden as early as 1747, when Franklin requested and received copies of Colden's, History of the Five Nations. On January 27, 1748 Franklin mentioned to Colden in a letter that he had read the History of the Five Nations and thought "that 'tis a well wrote, entertaining and instructive Piece," which must have been "exceedingly useful to all those Colonies" who had anything to do with Indian affairs.[18]

It was Colden who wrote that the Iroquois' skill at oratory and statecraft had "outdone the Romans," a popular conception in the eighteenth century that helped the colonists and European philosophers to integrate their observations of native societies with what they believed had been their own history. Colden's History of the Five Nations was first published in 1727 (then expanded and revised in the 1747 edition Franklin read), only three years after Lafitau's Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains provided a striking graphic illustration of this belief (see figure 14). Drawn by a French artist who had never been to America. The engraving purported to show Iroquois in council. The assembled native Americans are wearing togas instead of their own native dress, have short, curly Roman-style hair, and meet against the background of rolling, nearly treeless countryside that looks much more like Italy than the forests of northeastern North America.

Five years later, in a letter to Colden October 25, 1753, Franklin noted that he had seen extracts of Colden's book "in all the magazines."[19] Shortly after attending the Albany meeting of 1754, Franklin stopped to see Colden and thank him for the notes that he had sent to him while at Albany. Upon his return to Philadelphia, Franklin wrote to Colden that he had journeyed "to meet and hold a treaty with the Ohio Indians." Franklin promised Colden a copy of the treaty and stated that he had left his copy of Colden's book with a friend in Boston.[20]

In one of America's first editorial cartoons, Franklin advocated colonial unity in 1754 with the slogan "Join, or Die" under a disjointed snake, each piece of which had the name of a colony (see figure 13). The drawing appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette, May 9, 1754, just before the Albany Conference with the Iroquois and the English colonies. The snake (sometimes accompanied by the phrase "Don't Tread on Me.") became a popular symbol of colonial unity, much like the covenant chain image Franklin later would use in designs for early United States coins. It is significant that the New York Tammany Society retained the Rattlesnake as the clan totem for Pennsylvania throughout the 19th century.[21]

Figure 13

Figure 13. Join or Die. Benjamin Franklin. Pennsylvania Gazette, 9 May 1754.

Characterizations of native polities as "confederate republics" -- were part of intellectual discourse in the colonies as Franklin began to assemble plans for an intercolonial federation. Lewis Evans' "Brief Account of Pennsylvania, 1753," published as Franklin was at Carlisle, stated:

They are all Republicks in the Strictest sense; every Nation has a general Council, whither deputies are sent from every village; [and] by a majority of votes everything is determined there. What is most singular in American Government is that there is no such thing as coercive power in any Nation . . . . [Their] National Councils have Power of War and peace . . . [but] they can neither raise men nor appoint officers [leaving such matters to those qho of] their own accord unite in a Company [and choose] their war Captain, nor has this Captain any power to compel his men, or to punish them for neglect of duty [and] yet no officer on earth is more strictly obeyed, so strongly are they influenced by the principle of doing their Duty uncompelled. [22]

According to Evans, the the Six Nations -- "the Mohocks, Onoyades, Tucaroras, Onondagoes, Cayugoes," and "Senecas" -- bore "a universal dominion in North America," and their colonial allies "need not fear any other nations."[23] Characterizations of native political systems as confederate republics-- used in the 1720s by Colden -- echoed at the Constitutional Convention two generations later in the speeches of James Wilson.

On the eve of the Albany Conference, Franklin was already persuaded that Canassatego's words were good counsel, and he was not alone in these sentiments. James DeLancey, acting governor of New York, sent a special invitation to Hendrick to attend the Albany Conference (see figure 15), where the aging Mohawk sachem provided insights into the structure of the League of the Iroquois for the assembled colonial delegates. In letters convening the conference from the various colonies, instructions of the delegates were phrased in Iroquois diplomatic idiom. From colonist to colonist, the letters spoke of "burying the hatchet" -- a phrase that entered idiomatic English from the Iroquois Great Law -- as well as "renewing the covenant chain."[24]

By the time Hendrick was invited to address the delegates to the Albany Congress, he was well known on both sides of the Atlantic, among Iroquois and Europeans alike. Hendrick had become a very close friend and co-commander of the British Indian agent William Johnson, at whose home he often lodged, on his way to or from Albany, to the southeast of Johnson Hall. Hendrick played a major role in convening the Albany Congress in large part because he wished to see his friend Johnson reinstated as the English superintendent of affairs with the Six Nations. Without him, Hendrick maintained that the covenant chain was rusting. It was Johnson himself who conducted most of the day-to-day business with the Indians at Albany.

Hector Saint Jean de Crevecoeur, himself an adopted Iroquois who had sat in on sessions of the Grand Council at Onondaga, described Hendrick in late middle age, preparing for dinner at the Johnson estate, within a few years of the Albany Congress:

[He] wished to appear at his very best. . . . His head was shaved, with the exception of a little tuft of hair in the back, who which he attached a piece of silver. To the cartilage of his ears . . . he attached a little brass wire twisted into very tight spirals.

A girondole was hung from his nose. Wearing a wide silver neckpiece, a crimson vest and a blue cloak adorned with sparkling gold, Hendrick, as was his custom, shunned European breeches for a loincloth fringed with glass beads. On his feet, Hendrick wore moccasins of tanned elk, embroidered with porcupine quills, fringed with tiny silver bells. [25]

The Albany Congress convened June 19, 1754, five days after its scheduled opening, because many of the Iroquois and some of the colonial commissioners arrived late. Most of the sessions of the congress took place at the Albany Courthouse; many of the speeches to the Indians (and their replies) occurred in front of the governor's residence. Albany at the time straddled the border between colonial settlement and Iroquois country at the "eastern door" of the Six Nations' symbolic longhouse. The town was still dominated by the architecture of the Dutch, who had started the town before the English replaced them.[26]

On June 28, 1754, the day after Hendrick arrived with the Mohawks, James DeLancey met with him. The 200 Indians in attendance sat on ten rows of benches in front of the governor's residence, with colonial delegates facing them in a row of chairs, their backs to the building. According to Theodore Atkinson's account of the conference, the gathering was held on a warm day, after morning rain. Governor Delancey read a speech approved by the delegates paragraph by paragraph, as New York's interpreter relayed his words to the Indians. The speechmaking also stopped briefly for the presentation of belts to the Indians -- following Iroquois diplomatic custom.

DeLancey's speech began with a condolence using language ("I wipe away your tears, and take sorrow from your hearts , that you may open your minds and speak freely." [Then Governor Delancey gave] "A String of Wampum") similar to what Franklin had heard a year earlier at Carlisle.[27] As the governor proceeded, the assembled Indians "Signifyed [sic] their understanding of each paragraph by a kind of Universal Huzzah." And "When the great Chain belt was Dil[i]vered on this occassion, they Signifyed their understanding or Consent by Such a Huzzah repeated Seven Times over for every Tribe."[28] Holding the chain belt given him by the colonial delegates, Hendrick made the belt a metaphor of political union, as he advised De Lancey that the colonists should strengthen themselves and "In the mean time we desire, that you will strengthen yourselves, and bring as many into this Covenant Chain as you possibly can."[29] It is likely that Hendrick remarked on this subject several days later, when the Indians and delegates assembled again in front of the Governor's residence.[30] In effect, Hendrick was repeating the advice Canassatego had given colonial delegates at Lancaster a decade earlier, this time at a conference devoted not only to diplomacy, but also to drawing up a plan for the type of colonial union the Iroquois had been requesting. The same day, at the Courthouse, the colonial delegates were in the early stages of debate over the plan of union.

Hendrick was openly critical of the British at the Albany Council and hinted that the Iroquois would not ally with the English colonies unless a suitable form of unity was established among them. In talking of the proposed union of the colonies and the Six Nations on July 9, 1754, Hendrick stated, "We wish this Tree of Friendship may grow up to a great height and then we shall be a powerful people." Hendrick followed that admonition with a analysis of Iroquois and colonial unity, when he said "We the United Nations shall rejoice of our strength" as we will "have now made so strong a Confederacy."[31] In reply to Hendrick's speech on Native American and colonial unity, DeLancey said: "I hope that by this present Union, we shall grow up to a great height and be as powerful and famous as you were of old." These words of Hendrick and De Lancey are significant in that they go beyond Covenant Chain rhetoric and talk of the symbol of the Great Law (the Great Tree).[32] Franklin was commissioned to draw up the final draft of the Albany Plan the same day, two months to the day after his Pennsylvania Gazette had published the "Join or Die" cartoon.

The next day, July 10, 1754, Franklin formally proposed his Plan of Union before the Congress. Franklin wrote that the debates on the Albany Plan "went on daily, hand in hand with the Indian business."[33]

Figure 14

Figure 14. An Iroquois council or Roman senate? Source: Donald A. Grinde, Jr., The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation (San Francisco: Indian Historian Press, 1977).

In drawing up his final draft, Franklin was meeting several diplomatic demands: the Crown's, for control, the colonies' desires for autonomy in a loose confederation, and the Iroquois' stated advocacy for a colonial union similar (but not identical) to their own in form and function. For the Crown, the Plan provided administration by a president general, to be appointed by England. The individual colonies were to be allowed to retain their own constitutions, except as the Plan circumscribed them. The retention of internal sovereignty within the individual colonies closely resembled the Iroquois system, and had no existing precedent in Europe.

Franklin chose the name "Grand Council" for the Plan's deliberative body, the same name generally applied to the Iroquois central council. The number of delegates, forty-eight, was close to the Iroquois council's fifty,[34] and each colony had a different number of delegates, just as each Haudenosaunee nation sent a different number of sachems to Onondaga. The Albany Plan was based in rough proportion to tax revenues, however, while the Iroquois system was based on tradition.

The Albany Plan of Union called for a "general Government . . . under which Government each colony may retain its present Constitution."[35] Basically, the plan provided that Parliament was to establish a general government in America, including all the thirteen colonies, each of which was to retain its present constitution except for certain powers (mainly mutual defense) that were to be given to the general government. The king was to appoint a president-general for the government. Each colonial assembly would elect representatives to the Grand Council.

The president-general would exercise certain powers with the advice of the Grand Council, such as handling Indian relations, making treaties, deciding upon peace or war, raising troops, building forts, providing warships, and finally to make such laws and levy such taxes as would be needed for its purposes.[36] Through this plan colonial leaders embraced a plan for union that Indian leaders such as Canassatego and Hendrick had urged upon them for a decade or more. Thus, the roots of intercolonial unity are in the Indian-white relations of the early eighteenth century. During this time, men such as Benjamin Franklin saw in the Iroquois Confederacy a model on which to build.

With these facts in mind, Henry Steele Commager's remarks, prefacing the Articles of Confederation in Documents of American History, take on significant meaning. Commager states that the Articles of Confederation "should be studied in comparison with the Albany Plan of Union and the Constitution."[37] The interrelatedness of the three instruments of government is an important part in understanding the path to union. According to Clinton Rossiter, "The Albany Plan is a landmark on the rough road that was to lead through the first Continental Congresses and the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution of 1787."[38] The missing component in this analysis is the role of Iroquois political theory and its influence on the formation of American notions of government. Julian P. Boyd maintained two generations ago that Franklin "proposed a plan for the union of the colonies and he found his materials in the great confederacy of the Iroquois."[39]

According to Boyd, Franklin used analogies about Indians whenever they suited his purposes. In Franklin's bagatelle Remarques sur la politesse des sauvages de l'Amerique Septentrionale, written during the American Revolution, the spirit of the work was less an examination of Indian manners than it was a commentary on civilized society that Franklin found artificial and weak. In the beginning of the bagatelle, Franklin stated:

Savages we call them because their manners differ from ours, which we think the perfection of civility: they think the same of theirs. The Indian men, when young, are hunters and warriors; when old, counsellors; for all their government is by counsel of the sages; there is no force, there are no prisons, no officers to compel obedience or inflict punishment.[40]

Franklin knew that such a comparison of European and American Indian ways was exactly the kind of analysis that the Romantic thinkers, recently influenced by the works of Rousseau, would want to hear.

While the interest of Rousseau regarding America's native peoples was mainly philosophical, Franklin's was practical. He needed a governmental system by which to unite the colonies, and the Iroquois had a workable example of a federal structure which allowed maximum internal freedom, a necessity for colonies which disagreed with each other more often than not. According to Boyd, "One of America's great contributions to the history of political thought has been its working out of the problem of federation." In the Iroquois, Franklin and other colonial (later revolutionary) leaders could see a federation of perhaps 15,000 American Indians holding together a system of alliances that stretched from the Hudson to the James and St. Lawrence rivers, and nearly to the Mississippi. "What he [Franklin] proposed [in 1754] came in part from the Iroquois. . . . Here indeed was an example worth copying."[41]

Figure 15

Figure 15. Hendrick, Abraham, and Franklin at the Albany Conference, 1754. By John Kahionhes Fadden.

In examining Franklin's interest in Indians, the modern reader must realize that Indians played an extremely important and central role in American history until the 1830s. American Indians had a marked impact on almost every phase of English colonial life. Tribes and confederacies such as the Iroquois often held the balance of power between the French and the British in North America. Whether England or France would dominate North America was in the hands of the Iroquois in the eighteenth century. Indians were not a subdued people. They lived in their own towns and strongholds beyond the Euroamerican frontier. Their political importance as allies, counselors, and adversaries cannot be overestimated.[42] Indeed, the process of treatymaking and protocol was often dictated by Iroquois norms.

At no time were native people in America more influential in the politics of Europe than during the middle of the eighteenth century, and, at that time, no confederacy was more influential than that of the Iroquois. The Iroquois Confederacy controlled the only relatively level land route between the English colonies and French settlements ringing the Saint Lawrence Valley; they maintained alliances with virtually every Indian nation bordering either cluster of settlements. It was in this context, as France and Britain wrestled for hegemony in North America, that some of the men who would do most to shape the new United States, Franklin the most prominent among them, cut their diplomatic and military teeth maintaining alliances with the Iroquois and their native allies. Thus, in the service of British interest, future revolutionaries such as Franklin were absorbing the native ideas they would later use to counterpose British tyranny in the colonies.

The economic significance of native groups also cannot be underestimated. New immigrants to the Eastern Seaboard of North America who settled in the fledgling cities or on frontier farms were affected by Indian power along the frontier since Indians inhibited unbridled westward movement. The fur trade was a vital part of the economy for such places as Albany and Philadelphia. In fact, the whole commercial structure of the colonial economy was based on Indians supplying traders with furs and peltry. Franklin knew that Indians could subvert this commercial structure by simply refusing to trap and hunt. Hence, Indians were an economic factor that influenced the nature of the economy from the wages of a Philadelphia counting-house clerk to the decisions on taxation and defense policy that the British foreign ministers made at Whitehall in England.[43]

The colonists figured into Whitehall's financial equation as well, as England looked for ways to pay debts incurred in the long war with France. New taxes were being readied for the colonists, many of whom felt they should bear no part of Britain's military burdens. They also were beginning to develop a distinctly American identity, and to display it using the symbols of native America as a symbolic prelude to revolution. The issue of taxes would kindle the rhetoric of liberty, which came dressed, as rebellion built to revolution, as a Mohawk.


  1. Canassatego, cited in Carl Van Doren and Julian P. Boyd, eds., Indian Treaties Printed by Benjamin Franklin 1736-1762 (Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1938), p. 75.

  2. Cadwallader Colden, History of the Five Nations (New York: New Amsterdam Book Company, 1902), II, pp. 18-24.

  3. Carl Van Doren and Julian P. Boyd, eds., Indian Treaties Printed by Benjamin Franklin 1736-1762 (Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1938), p. 75.

  4. Cited in Julian Boyd, "Dr. Franklin: Friend of the Indian," [1942] in Roy N. Lokken, ed., Meet Dr. Franklin (Philadelphia: The Franklin Institute, 1981), pp. 244-45.

  5. E.B. O'Callaghan, ed., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New York (Albany: Weed, Parsons, 1853-1887), VI, 670-671.

  6. Mary E. Fleming Mathur, "Tiyanoga of the Mohawks: Father of the United States," Indian Historian, III, 2, p. 59.

  7. Richmond Bond, Queen Anne's American Kings, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952), p. 118.

  8. Donald A. Grinde, Jr. The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation (San Francisco: Indian Historian Press, 1977), pp. 34-36.

  9. Ibid., and Bruce E. Johansen, "The Forgotten Founders: Benjamin Franklin, the Iroquois and the Rationale for the American Revolution," Four Winds, II, 4 (1982), pp. 9-13.

  10. One of the items discussed at the Junto (an intellectual club organized by Franklin and the predecessor to the American Philosophical Society) in the 1740's was: "Which is the best form of government, and what was that form which first prevailed among mankind?" See "Rules Established for a Club in Philadelphia," Benjamin Franklin Papers in Library of Congress, Reel 11.

  11. Albert H. Smyth, ed., The Writings of Benjamin Franklin (New York: Macmillan, 1905-1907), III, p. 42.

  12. Leonard W. Labaree, ed., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959-), IV, p. 481.

  13. Ibid., p. 482.

  14. Van Doren and Boyd, Indian Treaties, p. 128 and Leonard W. Labaree, ed., The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), pp. 197-199. For the first recorded Covenant Chain rhetoric, see "The Onnodagoes Ansr to ye propasitiones [sic] made to ym the 20 of July 1677 . . . In the Court house of Albany ye 21 July 1677," in Lawrence H. Lederer, ed., The Livingston Indian Records, 1666-1723 (New York: Earl M. Coleman, 1979), p. 43. The authors are aware that Iroquois Covenant Chain rhetoric is not a part of the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), but such rhetoric often led American colonists such as Benjamin Franklin and Cadwallader Colden into a realization of some of the aspects of the Great Law in order to facilitate the process of forest diplomacy and, in Franklin's case, the creation of American government. For an examination of Iroquois diplomacy in the colonial period, see Richard Aquila, The Iroquois Restoration: Iroquois Diplomacy on the Colonial Frontier, 1701-1754 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1983), Francis Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The Covenant Chain Confederation of Indian Tribes with the English Colonies (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984), and Randolph C. Downes, Council Fires on the Ohio: A Narrative of Indian Affairs in the Upper Ohio Valley until 1795 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1940). For an interesting article on the nature of cultural exchange in the period, see Daniel K. Richter, "Cultural Brokers and Intercultural Politics: New York Iroquois Relations, 1664-1701," Journal of American History, Vol., 75, 1 (June 1988).

    The European rivalry for the fur trade in the seventeenth century made many American Indian nations and especially, the Iroquois, a pivotal group in North America, see George T. Hunt, The Wars of the Iroquois (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1940), Allen W. Trelease, Indian Affairs in Colonial New York: The Seventeenth Century (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1960), Douglas E. Leach, Flintlock and Tomahawk: New England in King Philip's War (New York: W. W. Norton, 1966), Thomas E. Norton, The Fur Trade in Colonial New York, 1686-1776 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1974), Robert C. Rithie, The Duke's Province: A Study of New York Politics and Society, 1664-1691 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), Georgiana C. Nammack, Fraud, Politics, and the Dispossession of the Indians (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969), Stanley N. Katz, Newcastle's New York: Anglo-American Politics, 1732-1753 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968), and Patricia U. Bonomi, A Factious People: Politics and Society in Colonial New York (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971) for the literature on this topic.

  15. Van Doren, ed., Indian Treaties, p. 128.

  16. Ibid., p. 129.

  17. Ibid., p. 131.

  18. Labaree, ed., Franklin Papers, V, p. 272.

  19. Benjamin Franklin to Cadwallader Colden, October 25, 1753, Ibid., V, p. 80.

  20. Labaree, ed., Franklin Papers , V, pp. 80-81.

  21. See "Society of St. Tammany, Constitution and Roll of Members," in Manuscript Division, New York Public Library.

  22. Lewis Evans, "Brief Account of Pennsylvania," in Lawrence H. Gipson, ed., Lewis Evans (Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1939), p. 92. See also, Charles H. McIlwain, ed., Wraxall's Abridgement of the New York Indian Records, 1678-1751 (Cam bridge: Harvard University Press, 1915), pp. 240-241.

  23. Gipson, ed., Lewis Evans, p. 92.

  24. E.B. O'Callaghan, ed., The Documentary History of the State of New York (Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co., 1849), II, pp. 546-551.

  25. St. Jean de Crevecoeur, Letters From an American Farmer (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1926), p. 170. Crevecoeur indicates that Hendrick was seated at dinner next to a European duchess, who swooned over him. She asked Hendrick to escort her to the Mohawk country, which he did. She so impressed Hendrick and other Iroquois that they set aside 5,000 acres of choice land along the Susquehhannah River for her so, as Crevecoeur put it, "she would have a place of her own where she could raise her wigwam, light her fire, and hang her kettle every time she came to see them." [Ibid.]

  26. Tench Tilghman, Memoir of Lt. Col. Tench Tilghman (New York: Arno, 1971), p. 80.

  27. O'Callaghan, ed., Documentary History of New York, VI, p. 567.

  28. Beverly McAnear, "Personal Accounts of the Albany Congress of 1754," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXXIX, 4, p. 736.

  29. O'Callaghan, ed., Documentary History of New York, VI, pp. 869.

  30. McAnear, "Albany Congress of 1754," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXXIX, 4, p. 736-737.

  31. Colonial Records of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg: Theo. Fenn & Co., 1851), VI, p. 98.

  32. Ibid., VI, p. 98.

  33. John Bigelow, ed., Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1868), p. 295. There were about 150-200 Iroquois and about 25 colonists at the meeting, according to official accounts.

    Historians have debated whether Franklin was the major author of the Albany Plan, or whether the credit should go to Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts. We believe that the weight of the evidence indicates Franklin's authorship, based on his "Short Hints" developed before the meeting. For an analysis supporting Hutchinson's authorship, see Lawrence H. Gipson, "The Drafting of the Albany Plan of Union: A Problem in Semantics," Pennsylvania History, XXVI, 4 (October 1959), pp. 292-316. Also see other works that address this topic, John R. Alden, "The Albany Congress and the Creation of the Indian Superintendencies," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXVII, 2 (September 1940), pp. 193-210; Milton Hamilton, Sir William Johnson, Colonial American, 1738-1763 (Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1976), pp. 100-112; Richard C. Newbold, The Albany Congress and Plan of Union of 1754 (New York: Vantage Press, 1955). Newbold analyzed the debate and considered Franklin to be the primary architect of the plan. Finally, the editors of the Franklin Papers analyzed the debate and included the Albany Plan in Franklin's papers, see Labaree, ed., Franklin Papers, V, pp. 387-392.

  34. O'Callaghan, ed., Documentary History of New York, VI, p. 889.

  35. Labaree ed., Franklin Papers, V, 387. The term "speaker" also is used in the Iroquois Great Law of Peace, Section 14. See Arthur C. Parker, The Constitution of the Five Nations (Albany: State Museum, 1916), Section 14. In using the Parker version of the Great Law, the authors realize that it is largely a 19th Century translation of the Great Law. However, the salient imagery and concepts contained in the Parker version can be detected in much earlier historical documents.

  36. Labaree, ed., Franklin Papers, V , 387-392.

  37. Henry Steele Commager, Documents of American History (New York: Appleton, Century, Crofts, 7th ed., 1963), p. 111. Indeed when studying the Albany Plan of Union, scholars should also examine Wilbur R. Jacobs, ed., The Appalachian Frontier: The Edmond Atkin Report and Plan of 1755 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967) for an attempt to unify colonial Indian policy in the aftermath of the Albany meeting.

  38. See Clinton Rossiter, "The Political Theory of Benjamin Franklin," in Esmond Wright, ed., Benjamin Franklin: A Profile (New York: Hill and Wang, 1970), pp. 179-180.

  39. See Julian P. Boyd, "Dr. Franklin: Friend of the Indians," p. 239. Other contemporary historians concur in this analysis. See Arrell M. Gibson, The American Indian (Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath, 1980), pp. 580-581.

  40. See Boyd, "Dr. Franklin," pp. 238-239.

  41. Ibid, p. 246.

  42. See Grinde, Iroquois, Chapter 2.

  43. See Wilbur R. Jacobs, Wilderness Politics and Indian Gifts (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966) for a fuller discussion of these themes.

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