Minute Book 3: 1725-August

The next letter from the Commissioners to New York Governor Burnet passed on several items of news. The Six Nations had sent delegates to meet with the governor of New France and there was speculation that they might sell the land on the Oswego River (which they called the Onnondage River) where Albany traders were trading with “Far Indians” from beyond Iroquoia.

David Van Dyck and Goose Van Schaik had been to Canada where they learned that four people from Schawenadie were the culprits in the death of Williams, a soldier from Mount Burnet who had been missing for some time. Kahnawage was very concerned and was sending envoys to Albany.

The Six Nations had sent 100 men to Virginia, where they planned to take revenge for the deaths of 150 of their people who had been killed by the English and their indigenous allies.

The commissioners continued to issue summonses to people who were suspected of trading illegally with the French, with little success. Strowd blankets were still being sold to the French, but now the traders were using the Oswego River location as well as Albany to carry on this trade.

The commissioners also told the governor that six French soldiers had deserted from Montreal and come to Albany. They were allowed their freedom to stay there and work, pending instructions from the governor about what to do with them.

The commissioners said it would be difficult to give the governor an exact account of how many furs have been traded at Lake Ontario, what had come from Canada, and the value of goods carried to the west, because many traders refused to provide information. They were confident, however, that profits were high and the number of skins was more than what had come (illegally) from Canada.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, August 1725 starts here.

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Minute Book 3: 1724-November

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, November 1724 starts here

In November the Commissioners completed their response to the petition against Governor Burnet’s trade policy prohibiting the sale of Indian trade goods to the French.I have not transcribed it because it is printed beginning on page 740 of O’Callaghan’s Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, volume 5, along with many other documents relating to the controversy.  The report complied with Burnet’s request to find reasons to support the policy, but in practice the policy continued to meet with strong opposition in Albany.  The commissioners informed the governor that many traders still refused to take the oath against trading with the French, nor would they respond to inquiries about the volume of the trade. Resistance had increased following the incident at Mount Burnet. Johannes Bleecker refused to be a commissioner any longer.

There are no entries for December 1724.

 

Minute Book 3: 1724-October

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, October 1724 starts here

The records for October demonstrate the utter failure of Governor Burnet’s policy prohibiting trade in Indian goods between New York  and the French.  The policy was codified in an act that required traders to take an oath that they were not engaging in the trade, but nearly everyone in Albany was doing so, including commissioners and their relatives. Moreover, the trade was a mainstay of the economy for native people in the area, including the Kaniengeha’ka (Mohawks) both in the Mohawk Valley and in the mission communities on the Saint Lawrence River.

The records document a dramatic encounter that occurred on October 1st, when Lieutenant Edmund Blood and Sergeant Charles Buckley, British officers garrisoned at Mount Burnet, north of Albany, traveled up Fish Creek west of the Hudson River to go hunting. Unexpectedly they came across Nicholas Schuyler and Jacob Wendell in the woods, where they were camping in a tent along with twenty or thirty Indians. They had in their possession 58 pieces of strouds, a kind of cloth that was a staple item in the fur trade. The names and nations of the Indians are never identified anywhere in the documents, but Schuyler and Wendell were both from prominent Albany families. They emerged from their tent, surprised to see the Lieutenant, who asked them where they were going. They said they were headed down the river, but could not produce a permit. The British officers seized the strouds in the King’s name by marking them in chalk with “the Broad Arrow,” and Schuyler and Wendell spoke to the Indians in their native tongue, which the British did not understand. The Indians began to pack up the strowds and the officers stopped them and seized the strouds over again.  Outnumbered, the British officers consulted with each other and decided to return to their blockhouse for reinforcements. Not surprisingly they came back to find the group and the strouds had disappeared. They issued warrants against Schuyler and Wendell to require them to appear and take the oath against trading.

In the meantime, “Mr. Hansen” and Cornelis Cuyler had returned from Canada with 117 backs of beavers and some dressed deerskins. More canoes were still expected. Hansen took the oath, but Cuyler refused, apparently planning to send more strouds to Canada by way of a group of Indians who were in town before he took it. He was fined 100 pounds. Hansen testified that he saw other strouds being delivered to Canada on his trip.

Philip Schuyler, father of Nicholas Schuyler, had still not paid the 100 pound fine assessed against him for violating the act.

The records also show in a letter to Governor Burnet dated October 3rd, that the Six Nations sachems met again with the commissioners following the September treaty with Governor Burnet.  Once again they refused to take up arms on Boston’s behalf. They told the commissioners “that they would still be their friends & adhere to them desiring & Recommending them to make a peace w.t the Eastern Ind.ns by Restoring them their Land and sending them their hostages.”

Governor Burnet was adamantly attached to his trade policy, but opposition was widespread even in London, where a group of merchants had signed a petition to the king in opposition to it. Turning the screws tighter on the Indian Commisisoners, Burnet asked them to respond to the London petition to refute the points that it made.