The Six Nations Don’t Want a French-English War in Iroquoia
On April 11th, a delegation from Onondaga, Cayouga, and the Tuscaroras came to Albany on behalf of the Six Nations as a whole. They told the commissioners that Governor Vaudreuil had sent a message to Jean Coeur (Louis-Thomas Chabert de Joncaire) in Seneca Country telling him that someone from New England had revealed Governor Burnet’s plan for a trading house at the mouth of the Onondaga River (Oswego). Governor Vaudreuil described his own plans to build a fort at Niagara and ships to sail Cadarachqui (Lake Ontario) as well as his intention to destroy the English house at Oswego.
The delegates said that the Six Nations reminded Jean Coeur that the French and the Haudenosaunee had recently fought a bitter war that ended with an agreement not to make war over frivolous things such as “Beavers and furrs.” If the French destroyed the English trading house and built the proposed ships and fort, it could mean war. They urged the French to live in peace with the English. They did not want blood shed in their country.
They begged their brother Corlaer (New York) to listen to this message too. The French and the English should “live like friends together,” neither becoming the first aggressor. The delegates said they would take particular note of whether Corlaer followed this advice, in support of which the sachims had sent a large belt of wampum. They had sent a belt to the French with the same message. They wanted Governor Burnet to meet them at the beginning of June to renew the covenant and discuss important matters.
The commissioners responded that they were surprised that the Six Nations would allow the French to impose on them in such a way, at which point the page ends. The remainder of their answer is missing.
Abraham Schuyler Receives a Challenging Assignment
On April 27th the commissioners wrote to Governor Burnet to tell him that pursuant to his request they had sent Major Abraham Schuyler to quiet the minds of the Six Nations. He brought gifts, but not wampum. They also told the governor that many traders had set out to the west with as many as 50 canoes. Apparently the merchants of Albany had decided to try to work with the new situation, now that trade with the French to the north was banned and people caught taking goods to and from Montreal ran the risk of being arrested and having their goods confiscated. The effect of Governor Burnet’s ban on the northern trade was to increase the English presence in Iroquoia even as the French were strengthening theirs.
The commissioners also told the governor that they had learned that a group of men had gone from Montreal to Niagara, possibly to build a new fort there. Their information was accurate. Frank Severance’s book, An Old Frontier of France, includes the plans for the proposed new fort, an imposing stone two story building that would form the center for a powerful French presence in the region.
Problems at Tiononderogue (the Lower Mohawk Town)
The commissioners’ letter also says that they were enclosing a petition from the inhabitants of Fort Hunter, the European community that had grown up around the English fort constructed next to the Kaniengeha’ka (Mohawk) community at Tiononderogue, the Lower Mohawk Town, where Schoharie Creek meets the Mohawk River. The petitioners asked the governor to prohibit both their own community and others from buying corn from the Indians or selling them rum. The petition is not included in the records.