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of the Onondagas to guard this fire, the general meeting place of the
united nations, and well they performed it.

Classical students have ever been accustomed to look to foreign
lands, to ancient civilizations, as the birthplace of political institutions.
How remote in antiquity was the birth of the League of the Iroquois,
no history will ever tell. Some writers assert, early in the fifteenth
century Parkman in his vigorous days essayed to approximate it by
wide research among the oldest of the tribesmen he could find, and
was given only legends and legendary lore. No historian since has
done any better. Their form of government has been described as "of
the whole, by the whole, for the benefit of the whole," almost a proto-
type of our own democratic form. It is remarked by students of
democracies that these ostensibly primitive people had not developed
far beyond the stage of barbarism when they set up that form of
government which civilized races are wont to expect only in the highest
civilization. Their surroundings were in no manner refining. They had
no schools, and no studies greater than the studies of nature and their
■ own lives. The tribes of their race they knew and married with, were
even more barbaric than they. How, then, ask the students of democra-
cies, this striking resemblance between their clan and tribal governments
and that of the ancient Teutons centuries ago ? Why, indeed, the spirit
of the Amphictyonic Council of old Greece?

Our Pittsburgh historian, Neville B. Craig, in his "History of Pitts-
burgh" and in the "Olden Time," in the first mention of the Iroquois
Council composed of the sachems of the different nations, remarks:
"This Council has been compared to the Wittenagemot of the Saxons,"
and in that sense a parliament. He is referring to the Wittena-gemote,
or the "Meeting of the wise men," explained by Blackstone and the old
writers on law who preceded him, and by Hallam and Sharon Turner
and authors of works on the British Constitution.*

"Like needs," observes Professor Kimm in a late and brief disserta-
tion on the Iroquois, "have brought about like conditions of society in
various ages in widely separated parts of the earth. When first dis-
covered, the Iroquois were conquering, or at least gaining an influence
over all the surrounding tribes. Their plan was largely one of exter-

«"Commcntaries," etc., Sir William Blackstone, Book I, Sec 148. Ibid, IV., Sec
412. "Middle Ages," Hallam, Vol. II. Chap. VIII, Ft I, p. 279. "History of the
Anglo-Saxons," Turner, VoL III, p. 180; Ibid, 184. Cf. Also "The Norman Con-
quest," Freeman; "History Anglo-Saxons," Kemble; "Anglo-Saxon Institutions,"
Chadwick. "Constitutional History of England," Stubbs, et al.

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mination and adoption rather than of conquest. If they spared a tribe
it was to levy tribute, and woe to that tribe if it refused to acknowledge
their sovereignty. Some think that if the Iroquois had not been checked
in their career by the coming of the whites, they would have extended
their empire over the greater part of North America.*

Again, Kimm, who seems to have followed Morgan, remarks: "Al-
though their Confederation was purely democratic in spirit, yet, ruling
over so large a territory, they found it necessary to adopt the representa-
tive form. They were constrained at first to form a league against the
more numerous and hostile tribes by which they were surrounded.
This union developed their natural aptitude for government, and neces-
sity compelled them to keep it in active operation. In a short time,
instead of acting on the defensive, they became the most aggressive
warriors on the American continent. Like the political fathers who
framed our present Constitution, they made a wide distribution of
power." The Iroquois ruled kindly at times ; always with sheer bravado
and in memory of past vengeance. Says Parkman :

The Iroquois in some measure owed their triumph to the position of their country,
for they dwelt within the present limits of the State of New York, whence several great
rivers and the inland oceans of the Northern Lake opened ready thoroughfares to their
roving warriors through all the adjacent wilderness. But the true fountain of their
success is to be sought in their own inherent energies, wrought to the most effective
action under a political fabric well suited to the Indian life, in their mental and moral
organization, in their insatiable ambition and restless ferocity.

In their scheme of government, as in their social customs and religious observances,
the Iroquois displayed in full sympathy and matured strength the same characteristics
which in other tribes are found distorted, withered, decayed to the root, or perhaps
faintly visible in an imperfect germ. They consisted of five tribes or nations. To each
tribe belonged an organization of its own. Each had several sachems, who, with the
subordinate chiefs and principal men, regulated all its internal affairs, but when foreign
powers were to be treated with, or matters involving the whole confederacy required
deliberation, all the sachems of the several tribes convened in the general assembly at
the great council-house in the Valley of the Onondaga. Here ambassadors were
received, alliances were adjusted, and all subjects of general interest discussed with
exemplary harmony. The general order of debate was prescribed by time ordered cus-
toms, and in the fiercest heat of controversy, the assembly maintained its self-control.

This great council-house occupies its page in the history of Western
Pennsylvania, for nearby was Fort Stanwix, where Sir William Johnson,
the English Crown's superintendent of Indian affairs for the British
Colonies in North America, in October, 1768, negotiated with the Iro-
quois (the Six Nations always in the designation of the English), the
treaty by which the entire region of Western Pennsylvania and all the
country south of the Ohio and Allegheny rivers to which the Six Nations
had any claim was transferred to the British. This treaty was debated
in the great council chamber, and here again in October, 1784, under
united colonial auspices, with Oliver Wolcott, General Richard Butler.

4"The Iroquois;" S. C. Kimm, 1900, a brochure.

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and Arthur Lee, commissioners of the embryo United States, a second
treaty was negotiated with the same nations, and all their indefinite
claim, so long set up to the Valley of the Mississippi, based entirely on
their conquest of a century before, was finally extinguished. The region
of Western Pennsylvania was included in this vast domain, and the claim
of the Iroquois had entered in a large degree into the diplomacy of
Great Britain and France in the protracted contest for the possession
of the Ohio Valley and the entire Cis-Mississippi region. "An important
treaty," epitomizes the historian in mention of this result.

So we must be interested in the history of the Six Nations, for it is
well to remember from now on that the Five Nations written of by
Golden became the Six Nations later, and that the French-named
Iroquois, and the Six Nations of the English, were the Ho-de-no-sau-nee
(in their own tongue), literally, "they form a cabin," or in the language
of Parkman and other historians, the League of the Iroquois. We will
follow Parkman's description further:

Besides their inherent qualities, the tribes of the Iroquois race derived their great
advantages from their superior social organization. They were more or less tillers of
the soil and were thus enabled to concentrate a more numerous population than the
scattered tribes who lived by the chase alone. In their well-peopled and well-constructed
villages they dwelt together the greater part of the year; and thence their religious
rites and social and political usages which elsewhere existed only in the germ, attained
among them a full development. Yet those advantages were not without alloy, and the
Jesuits were not slow to remark that the stationary and thriving Iroquois were more
loose in the observance of social ties than the wandering and starving tribes of the

Except the detached nation of the Tuscaroras and a few smaller tribes adhering
to them, the Iroquois family was confined to the region south of Lakes Erie and Ontario,
and the peninsula east of Lake Huron. They formed, as it were, an island in the vast
expanse of Algonquin population extending from Hudson's Bay on the north to the
Carolinas on the south; from the Atlantic to the Mississippi and Lake Winnipeg.

Much of the Iroquois conquest took place within a quarter of a
century. Parkman thinks from 1672, for during that time four of the
most powerful of the North American savage nations sank before the
arms of the Confederacy. These have been referred to. Parkman states
that within the same short period they subdued their southern neighbors,
the Lenape, then and long leading members of the Algonquin family,
and expelled the Ottawas from the river of that name. In the north,
west and south, their conquests embraced every tribe, and meanwhile
their war parties were harassing the French in Canada with reiterated
inroads and yelling their warwhoops under the walls of Quebec.

Among the subjugated tribes were the Wyandots, also known as the
Hurons, of Iroquoian stock, but not at any time a member of the Con-
federacy. These gave their conquerors harder battles than any Algon-
quin tribe, and their conquest was attended with greater losses. The
Iroquois, as scions of a warlike stock, were of singular vitality and
forceful in the extreme. Few tribes matched them in prowess, constancy.

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moral energy or intellectual vigor, as all historians assert. Nevertheless
the Hurons were the better soldiers. They alone of all the tribes held
it disgraceful to flee from the face of an enemy when the fortunes of
fight were adverse. Noting that their habitat lay about Detroit and
along the south shores of Lake Erie, Theodore Roosevelt states : "They
were close kin to the Iroquois though bitter enemies to them, and they
showed the desperate valor of their hostile kinsmen, holding themselves
above the surrounding Algonquins, with whom nevertheless they lived
in peace and friendship." ("Winning of the West," Vol. I). Mr. Roose-
velt also makes prominent the fact that it was a point of honor among
the Wyandots not to yield ; of all the tribes, the most dangerous in pitched

Overpowered by the Iroquois, they felt all too keenly the heel of the
conqueror, though never slow to plant that heel when chance was given
them. This tribe has been assigned many pages in the history of the
Indians of our region, and were most restive under their condition of
vassalage, for "the Iroquois were the worst of masters." Says Parkman :

Inordinate pride, the lust of blood and dominion, were the mainsprings of their
warfare, and their victories were stained with every excess of savage passion. That
their triumphs must have cost them dear, that in spite of their cautious tactics, these
multiplied conflicts must have greatly abridged their strength, would appear inevitable.
Their losses were, in fact, considerable, but every breach was repaired by means of a
practice to which they, in common with other tribes, constantly adhered— when their
vengeance was glutted by the sacrifice of a sufficient number of captives, they spared
the lives of the remainder and adopted them as members of their confederated tribes,
separating wives from husbands and children from parents, and distributing them
among different villages in order that old ties and associations might be more com-
pletely broken up. This policy is said to have been designated among them by a name
which signifies flesh cut into pieces and scattered among the tribes.

In the years 1714-1715 the Confederacy received a great accession of strength.
Southwards about the headwaters of the Neuse and the Tar and separated from their
kindred tribes by intervening Algonquins, dwelt the Tuscaroras, a warlike people
belonging to the generic stock of the Iroquois. The wrongs inflicted by white settlers,
and their own undistinguishing vengeance, involved them in a war with the colonists
which resulted in their defeat and expulsion. They emigrated to the Five Nations,
whose allies they had been in former wars with southern tribes and who now gladly
received them, admitting them as a Sixth Nation into their Confederacy.

Hence the Six Nations in Colonial and Revolutionary history. It
will be noted from Parkman's account of the policy of adoption and one
likely long continued, that the Iroquois could not have been a pure
blood, especially in the last years of the Confederacy. The accession
of the Tuscaroras is variously given, 1712-13-14. The war which broke
the power of this tribe in the south forever, was begun by them in Sep-
tember, 171 1, and its first fury broke forth in an indiscriminate massacre
of the settlements. But the vengeance of the whites was quick, for
with the aid of the Tuscaroras' enemies — the Catawbas, Cherokees,
Creeks and Yemassees — the strongholds of the Tuscaroras were attacked
and stormed and slight quarter shown them. Hence they abjectly sued

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for peace and gave up twenty chiefs as hostages. But they were forced
to move, and came to New York immediately following their final defeat.
There had been some emigration northward about 1710, for Governor
Charles Gookin laid before the Pennsylvania Council on June i6th of that
year, the minutes of a conference held at Conestoga on June 8th with
the various Indians, at which conference there were present three Tus-
carora chiefs and some "Seneques," also called "Conestogas." The last
paragraph in these minutes reads :

Pursuant to your Honour's, and Council's intent, we went to Conestoga where the
forewritten contents were by the chiefs of the Tuscaroras to us delivered; the sincerity
of their intentions we cannot any wise doubt, since they are of the same race and Ian-,
guage as our Seneques (Conestogas), who have always proved trusty and have also for
these many years been neighbors to a government (North Carolina or Virginia) jealous
of Indians and yet not displeased with them.^

In July, 1712, the New York Council decided that the Tuscaroras
might settle, conditionally, beyond the Blue Hills. As late as 1722,
outrages and massacres were charged to the Tuscaroras on the frontiers
of Virginia, and that they actually worked their way southward of the
Potomac from their "castle lately seated between Oneyde and Onon-
dage." The Tuscarora commemorations in Southern Central Pennsyl-
vania, the Tuscarora mountains, creek and valley from the time of
bestowal of the name, show the Tuscaroras to have been resident in
the section most of the period between 171 2 and 1722, and the well known
Tuscarora Path marked their route from the country of the Six Nations
to North Carolina and Virginia. Hence it is only natural to find Tusca-
rora commemorations where the tribe dwelt. The tribal name has long
been commemorated in a Pittsburgh street, in harmony with other
Indian names of both Iroquoian and Algonquian origin. In fact, the
Indian nomenclature geographically in use in Pennsylvania and in
street designations in Pittsburgh, is in itself impressive of an extended
Indian history. That the Tuscaroras did not largely range hereabouts
is evidenced by a glance at Conrad Weiser's census of the Iiidians he
feund at Logstown on the Ohio in 1748, when he enumerated 789
Indians of ten tribes then sojourning there, among them representatives
of each of the five original Iroquois nations, but really this was the
Seneca country or an extension of it, and by reason of Seneca occupancy
or possession the name Mingo became the designation of the people of
that nation in this region, as we have already seen, and the name has
endured geographically and historically in Mingo Junction and the
Mingo Bottom on the Ohio below Steubenville, and in Mingo church
and valley in Washington county, Pennsylvania, a church still there on
the site of the log structure famed in the days of the Whiskey Insurrec-
tion in 1794, and the graveyard, too, with its many pioneer interments

5**The Wilderness Trail," Charles A. Hanna, Vol. I, p. 83.

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marked with flat stones, just across the road from the modern church

The word Mingo is to be regarded as a corruption of the term
"Mengwe" applied to the Iroquois by the Dutch and the Swedes; first
to the Susquehannocks, the ancestors of the Custologas, and later to the
New York Iroquois. The form Minquas was also used. As a rule the
designation "Mingo" was applied to the Senecas living on the Allegheny
and the Upper Ohio by the English. The Susquehannocks were Iro-
quoian stock, but there is evidence in the Pennsylvania Council records
in the administration of Governor William Keith, 1717-1726, th»t the
Conestoga Indians actually paid tribute to the Five Nations. James
Log^n, president of the Council, said in 1721, that the celebrated Cones-
toga chief, Civility (his English name), was a descendant of the ancient
Susquehanna Indians, "but now reputed as of Iroquois descent." The
Mingfos of the Ohio are said to have been descendants of those who
subdued the Susquehannocks, or early Mingos. Thomas Chalkley,
a member of the Society of friends, visited the Conestogas living in
Chester county, Pennsylvania, in 1706. He kept a journal of his exten-
sive travels in America, and recorded that two nations dwelt in a town
he visited — ^the Senecas (Conestogas), and the Shawanese; and that
the first nation was ruled by an empress, his interpreter told him, and
that the tribe gave much heed to what she wished. This was the cele-
brated Queen Alliquippa, the friend of Washington, who visited her at
the mouth of the Youghiogheny river, December 30, 1753. She had
taken up several locations in the years intervening between Chalkley's
visit and Washington's visit, and her last years were spent about the
Forks of the Ohio. Her name is commemorated in the manufacturing
town of Aliquippa in Beaver county, Pennsylvania. Her name is vari-
ously spelled; the last form above is that of the United States postal
authorities. Queen Alliquippa was undoubtedly an Iroquois, for Conrad
Weiser, who met her in 1748 and dined with her at her town on the
Ohio, opposite McKee's Rocks, called her an old Seneka woman who
reigned with great awthority,* Notwithstanding this assertion five
years later, in a list of chiefs of the Mohawk Nation, he enumerated
Alliquippa 's son among them. Celeron met her in 1749, and mentions
her only as an Iroquois. Queen Alliquippa will be accorded mention
more in detail in the story of her devotion to the English in their struggle
for supremacy in the West.

•"The Wilderness Trail," Vol. I, pp. 7^79, 81-82. Sec also Weiser's "Journal,"
Chap. X, Aug. 27, 1748.

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The Barbaric Republic.

Much of the early history of Pittsburgh that will follow is border
history, that is to say, it deals with events that happened far beyond
the pale of civilization. The actors in these events were many; they
were of two races, the Aryan and the Indian, the white and the red,
we may say to be more colloquial. It is altogether logical that all
phases of this history should be considered as events occurring before
the advent of the white settlers have been accorded equal potency with
those occurring afterward. As Governor Golden put it in a letter to
General Oglethorpe: "The Indian Affairs have ever appeared to your
Judgment of such importance to the Welfare of our own People that
you have ever carefully applied your thoughts to them, etc."

Again, the Harvard trio tell us: "The history of the United States
is inferior to that of no other country in the romance of discovery,
border warfare and frontier life, or the record of material results of a
nation's efforts. The Indians are certainly as interesting in customs,
warfare, and tribal government, as the Ancient Germans. The three
centuries of strife between the native races and the white invaders —
what Parkman calls 'the history of the forest,' is one of the World's
treasure houses of romantic episodes comparable with the history of

Governor Golden aptly remarks in his opening lines : "It is necessary
to know something of the Form of Government of the People whose
history one is about to know, and a few words will be sufficient to give
the Reader a Conception of that of the Five Nations," then, as he
observes, still under original simplicity. His account of these Nations
he said would show what dangerous neighbors the Indians had once
been, and what pains a neighboring colony (French Canada) whose
interest was opposite to the English, had taken to withdraw their aflFec-
tion from the English. The riches of the Indian trade which this
antagonistic colony received had a great part in the startling develop-
ments in our home region leading to open and terrible warfare a few
months after Golden wrote.^

Various historians have spread their views of the Iroquois over pages
of our national history, Lossing and Fiske especially. The Iroquois
have also their particular historians — Golden and Gatlin, and Schoolcraft ;
Beauchamp, William L. Stone and Lewis H. Morgan, and to invoke
this voluminous history it is apparent that these able writers esteemed
these wonderful specimens of the American race worthy of their extended

i"Aincrican History Guide," Channing, Hart and Turner, pp. 1-2.
^"History of Five Nations," Cadwallader Colden—Introduction.

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eflForts. The ''Jesuit Relations," those carefully prepared records of the
French missionaries while laboring in the heart of America, have fre-
quent mention of the Iroquois who, when first found by Cartier, were
dwelling on both banks of the St. Lawrence, with villages where Mon-
treal and Quebec now stand. The French explorers first betrayed the
confidence of. these natives by making prisoners of their head chief and
some of his followers and carrying them overseas. The Iroquoian stock
was wholly an inland stock, at no point reaching the ocean. The most
ancient traditions of the Five Nations locate their pristine home between
the lower St. Lawrence and Hudson's Bay. Hence the French explorers
first met them and first wronged them, to the lasting regret of France,
and it remained for Champlain to ruin all prospects of winning the
haughty Iroquois and their country for the French Crown.

Neville B. Craig was impressed with the great part the Iroquois
took in our national and local history. He had reasons to be, for when
he was but a child in Pittsburgh he knew certain Seneca chiefs, among
them Guyasutha and Cornplanter. He could remember Wayne and
his Legion, and was acquainted through his father, Major Isaac Craig,
with many officers of the Revolution and with some who served in the
Indian wars subsequent. Craig has given us pages pertaining to the
League of the Iroquois in his most timely, elaborate and entertaining
work, "The Olden Time," which he published in magazine form monthly,
beginning January, 1846, and ending December, 1847, which work is
highly spoken of by Parkman. His Iroquois matter consists of a series
of letters on that people addressed to Albert Gallatin, LL. D., president
of the New York Historical Society, and published originally in the
"American Review," the monthly magazine and organ of the Whig party.
The letters are under the nam de plume, "Skenandoah." An "Advertise-
ment" accompanying states that many parts of these letters were read
before the "Councils of the New Confederacy of the Iroquois" in the
years 1844-45-46, and to the establishment of that historical institution
the research by which the facts were accumulated is chiefly to be

In his introductory article, Craig says he has given great attention
and much space previously to the history of this remarkable people,
"The earliest known proprietors of the country around the head of the
Ohio." He was not at all apprehensive that his readers would think
he could devote too much of his magazine space to the account of that
Confederacy which had such absolute sway over so vast an extent of
country, and which produced such men as Tanacharison, Guyasutha
and Cornplanter. He could have mentioned Brant, Red Jacket, and

Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 10 of 81)