Samuel Gardner Drake.

The aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index online

. (page 25 of 131)
Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 25 of 131)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

were their grounds of war against the English. 10. Whether they had not
better come or send messengers to treat with the English. 11. Whether they
had hired the Mohawks to help them.

"The answare of the sachems, viz. JVinigretk, Pcssccus and J\fixam, vnto the
queries and letters sent by the messengers, Sarjeant Waiiz and Sarjeant John
Barrell, the 18th of the second month, 1653."

Mexam seems to have been the first that answered ; and of the first query
he said :

"I speak unfeignedly, from my heart, and say, without dissimulation, that I
know of no such plot against the English, my friends; implicating either the
Dutch governor or any other person. Though I be poor, it is not goods,
guns, powder nor shot, that shall draw me to such a plot as this against the
English, mv friends. f If the Dutch governor had made known any such
intention to me, I would have told it, without delay, to the English, my
friends. With respect to your second question, I answer, JVb. What do the
English sachems, my friends, think of us ? do they think we should prefer
goods, guns, powder and shot, before our lives? our means of living? both
of us and ours? As to the 4th query, I speak from my heart, and say, 1 know
of no such plot by the Dutch governor. There may come false news and
reports against us; let them say what they will, they are false. It is un-
necessary to say more. But in answer to the 10th query 1 will say, It is just
messengers should be sent to treat with the English sachems, but as for
mysiilf^I am old, and cannot travel two days together, but a man shall be sent
to speak with the sachems. I have sent to Mr. Smith, and Voll\ his man,
to speak to Mr. Brown^ and to say to him, that 1 love the English sachems,
and all Englishmen in the Bay: And desire Mr. Brown to tell the sachems

The third person singular, he, is used throughout, in the original, as it was supposed by
the propounders that each chief would be questioned separately.

t Every one must be forcibly reminded of the answer given by one of our revolutionary
worthies, Joseph Reed, Esq., to a British agent, on reading this answer of the chief Mexam,
though not under circumstances exactly similar. Mr. Reed was promised a fortune if he
would exert himself on the side of the king. Viewing it in the light of a bribe, he replied
" I am not worth purchasing, hut, such as I am, the king- of Great Britain is not rich enoug)
lo do it." Dr. Gordon's America, iii. 172. ed. London, 4 vols. 8vo. 1783,

ValUntine Whitman, an interpreter, elsewhere named.


of tlie Bay, tliat the child tliat is nmv born, or that is to bo born in time to
come, shall SIM- no war made by us against the English."

Pessarus spoke to this purpose:

U I am very thankful to these two men that came from the Massachusetts,
and to yon Thomas, and to you Poll* and to you Mr. Smith, you that are
come so Jin- ;is from the Kay to bring us this message, and to inform us of
these things we knew not of before. As for the governor of the Dutch, we
are lo.nli to invent any falsehood of him, though we be far from him, to please
i he Kiiirlish, or any others that bring these reports. For what I speak with
my month I speak from my heart. The Dutch governor did never propound
my such thing unto us. Do you think we are mad? and that we have
forgotten our writing that we had in the Bay, which doth bind us to the
r.nirlish, our friends, in a way of friendship? Shall we throw away that
writing and ourselves too? Have we not reason in us ? How can the Dutch
shelter us, being so remote, against the power of the English, our friends
we living close by the doors of the English, our friends? We do profess, we
abhor such things."

Lastly, we come to the chief actor in this affair, Ninigret. He takes up
each query in order, and answers it; which, for brevity's sake, we will give in
a little more condensed form, omitting nothing, however, that can in any
degree add to our acquaintance with the great chief. He thus commences :

" I utterly deny that there has been any agreement made between the Dutch
governor and myself, to fight against the English. I did never hear the
Dutchmen say they would go and fight against the English ; neither did I
hear the Indians say they would join with them. But, while I was there at
the Indian wigwams, there came some Indians tliat told rne there was a ship
come in from Holland, which did report the English and Dutch were fighting
together in their own country, and there were several other ships corning with
ammunition to fight against the English here, and that there would be a great
blow given to the English when they came. But this I had from the Indians,
and how true it is I cannot tell. I know not of any wrong the English have
done me, therefore WHY should I fight against them? Why do the English
sachems ask me the same questions over and over again ? Do they think we
are mad and wotdd, for a few guns and swords, sell our lives, and the lives
of our wives and children ? As to their tenth question, it being indifferently
spoken, whether I may go or send, though I know nothing myself, wherein I
have wronged the English, to prevent MY going; yet, as I said before, it being
left to my choice, that is, it being indifferent to the commissioners, whether 1
svill send some one to speak with them, I will send."f

To the letters which the English messengers carried to the sachems, Mexam
and Pessacus said, " We desire there may be no mistake, but that we may be
understood, and that there may be a true understanding on both sides. We desire
to know where you had this news, that there was such a league, made betwixt the.
Dutch and us, and also to know our accusers"

JVinigret, though of the most importance in this affair, is last mentioned in
the records, and his answer to the letter brought him by the messengers is as

"You are kindly welcome to us, and I kindly thank the sachems of Massa-
chusetts that they should think of me as one of the sachems worthy to be
inquired of concerning this matter. Had any of the other sachems been at
the Dutch, I should have feared their folly might have done some hurt, one
way or other, but THEY have not been there. / am the man. I have been
there myself. I alone am answerable for what I have done. And, as I have
already declared, I do utterly deny and protest that I know of no such plot as
has been apprehended. What is the story of these great rumors that I hear at
Pocatocke that I should be cut off, and that the English had a quarrel against

* So printed in Hazard, but probably means the same as Voll ; V, in the latter case, having
been taken for P. We have known such instances.

t The preceding sentence of our text, the author of Tales of the Indians thinks, " would
puzzle llie most mystifying politician of modern times." Indeed ! What ! a Philadelphia
lawyer 1 Really, we cannot conceive that it ought in the least to puzzle even a Boston
If a. puzzle exist any where, we apprehend it is in some mystifying uord.


me? I know of no such cause at all for my part. Is it because 1 wen!
thither to take physic for my health ? or what is the cause? I found no such
entertainment from the Dutch governor, when I was there, as to give me any
encoura^ ineiit to stir me up to such a league against the English, my friends.
It was winter time, and I stood, a great part of a winter day, knocking at
the governor's door, and he would neither open it, nor suffer others to open
it, ro let me in. I was not wont to find such carriage from the English, my

Not long after the return of the English messengers, who brought the above
relation of their mission, Jlwashaw arrived at Boston, as "messenger" of
AVm'ord, Pessacus, and Mexam, with "three or four" others. An inquisition
was immediately held over him, and, from his cross-examination, we gather
the following answers:

told me that he went to the Dutch to be cured of his disease,
hearing there was a Frenchman there that could cure him; and Mr. John
H'inthrop knew of his going. He carried 30 fathom of wampum, gave tin-
doctor 10, and the Dutch governor 15, who, in lieu thereof, gave him coats
with sleeves, but not one gun, though the Indians there gave him two guns.
That, while JVinigret was there, he crossed Hudson's River, and there an
Indian told him about the arrival of the Dutch ships. As to the corn sent to
the Dutch by Ninigret, it was only to pay his passage, the Dutch having
brought him home in a vessel. Five men went with J\"inigret. Four came
home with him in the vessel, and one came by land before. One of his
company \vas a Mohegan, and one a Conecticott Indian, who lived on the
other side of Hudson's River. A canoe was furnished with 60 fathom of
wampum, after Ninigrefs return from Monhatoes, to be sent there to pay for
the two guns, but six fathom of it was to have been paid to the doctor, which
was then due to him. There were in it, also, two raccoon coats, and two
beaver skins, and seven Indians to go with it. They and the canoe were
captured by Uncas"

An Indian named " J\~ewcom-.Matuxes, sometimes of Rhode Island," was
one that accompanied Jlwashaw. " One John Isightfoot, of Boston," said
.Mat axes told him, in Dutch, (he had lived among them at Southhold, and
learned their language,) that the Dutchmen would "cut off "the English of
Long Island. "Newcom also confessed! [to him] that Ninigret said that lie
heard that some ships were to come from Holland to the Monhattoes to cut off
the English." "That an Indian told him that the Dutch would come against
the English, and cut them off, but they would save the women and children
and guns, for themselves. But Capt. Simkms and the said Lightfoot do both
affirm that the said Newcom told them that the Dutchmen told him, as before
[stated,] though he now puts it off, and saith an Indian told him so." Simkins
affirmed also that JVeivcom told him that if he would go and serve the Dutch,
they would give him 100 a year.

On examining JVetceom, the commissioners gave it as their opinion that he
was guilty of perfidy, and that they should not have let him escape without
punishment, but for his being considered as an ambassador. They, there-
lore, desired Jlwashaw to inform Ninigret of it, that he might send him to
them again, " the better to clear himself." This we apprehend was not done.
.Iwashaw next notified the court that he had not done with them, "where-
upon he was sent for to speak what he had further to propound." He de-
manded how they came by then* information "of all these things touching
.Yinigret" They said from several Indians, particularly "the Monheage In-
* I km and the Narraganset Indian, which were both taken by Uncas his men,
who had confessed the plot before Mr. Haines at Hartford." Jlwashaw also
demanded restitution of the wampum taken by Uncas. The commissioners
told him that they had not as yet understood of the truth of that action, but
when they had thoroughly examined it, he should have an answer.

So, all this legislating was about JVinigrefs going to the Dutch ; for as to a
;>lot there appears no evidence of any ; but when Uncas had committed a
great depredation upon Ninigret, why " that altered the case " they must
inquire into it, which doubtless was all right so far; but if a like complaint


had been preferred airainst . V/>? /V/r/ by Uncas. we have reason to think it

would have been forthwith "inquired into," at least, without an if.

A story, it cannot be called r\ idence, told by Uncas, relating 1 to Ninigrd's
visit to the Dutch, is recorded by the commissioners, and which, if it amount
to any thin^, goes to prove himself guilty, and is indeed an acknowledgment
of his own perfidy in taking JVimgrefs boat and goods, as charged by Jlwa-
shaw. It is as t'ollows:

" Unrtts, theMohegan sachem, came lately to IMr. Hains 1 house at Hartford,
and informed him that Mmnigrett, sachem of the Niantick Narragansett.-
v\ent this winter to the Monhatoes" and made a league with the Dutch gov

rnor, and for a large present of wampum received 20 guns and a great box
of powder and bullets. J\'intgrd told him of the great injuries he had
-i stained from Uncas and the English. That on the other side of Hudson's
Rivr, *\'inigret had a conference with a great many Indian sagamores, and
desired their aid to cut off the Mohegans and English. Also, that, about two
\ears since, J\i"inigrd "sent to the Monheage sachem, arid gave him a present
of wampum, pressing him to procure a man skilful in magic workings, and
an artist in poisoning, and send unto him ; and he should receive more one
hundredth fathom of wampum, which was to have been conveyed to the
Monheage sachem, and the powaugh at the return of him that was to bring
tii-.i poison. Uncas having intelligence of these things, caused a narrow
watch to be set, by sea and land, for the apprehending of those persons; and
accordingly took them returning in a canoe to the number of seven: whereof
four of them were Narragansets, two strangers and one Pequatt. This was

'one in his absence, while he was with Mr. Haines, at Conecticott, and carried
by tliose of his men that took them to Mohegan. Being there examined, two
of them, the [Wampeage*] sachem's brother, and one Narraganset freely con-
fessed the whole plot formerly expressed, and that one of their company was
that powaugh and prisoner, pointing out the man. Upon this, his men in a
rage slew him, fearing, as he said, least he should make an escape, or other-
wise do either mischief to Uncas or the English, in case they should cany
him with the rest before them, to Conecticott to be further examined. And
being brought to Conecticott before Mr. Haines, and examined, did assert
these particulars."

An Indian squaw also informed " an inhabitant of Wethersfield, that the
Dutch and Indians generally were" confederating to cut off the English, and
that election day, [1654,] was the time set, "because then it is apprehended
the plantations will be left naked and unable to defend themselves, the strength
of the English colonies being gathered from the several towns. And the
aforesaid squaw advised the said inhabitants to acquaint the rest of the Eng-
l:sh with it, desiring they would remember how dear their slighting of her
Ibrmer information of the Pequots coming upon the English cost them."f
It would seem, from a careful examination of the records, that something

111 ^

had been suggested either by the Dutch or Indians, about " cutting off the
English," which justice to JVinigret requires us to state, might have been the
ease without his knowledge or participation. For, the testimony of the mes-
sengers of "nine Indian sagamores who live about the Monhatoes" no how
implicates him, and, therefore, cannot be taken into account, any more than

S.-e declaration onward in llie records. (Ilaz. ii. 2J2.)

t Referring- to an affair of l'i.37, which Dr. /. Mnf/icr relates as follows: "In the interim.
[while (.'apt. Mi.txon was pro'eciing Savbrook fort,] many of the Pequocls went to a plare
now called Wethersfteld on Connecticut River, and having- confederated with the Indians of
that place, (as it was generally thought,) they laid in ambush lor the English people of that
place, and divers of them going to their labor in a large field adjoining to' the town, were >et
upon by the Indians. Nine of the English were slain upon the place, and some horses, and
two young women were taken captive." Relation of the Troubles, &c. 26. Dr. Trumbttll
says this happened in April. Hist. Con. i. 77.

The cause of this act of the Pequots, according to Wmthrop, i. 260, was this. An Indian
called Sequin had given the English lands at \Vethersfield, that he might live by them and be
protected from other Indians. Hut when he came there, and had set down his wigwam, the
English drove him away by force. And hence it was supposed that he had plotted their
destruction, as above related, with the Pequois.


\vli;it an Indian named Ronnessoke told Nicholas Tanner, as interpreted by
another Indian called Jlddam ; the latter, though relating to ATm'gvY/'s visit,
was only a hearsay affair. Ronnessoke was a sagamore of Long Island.

. 1 lilam also interpreted the story of another Indian, called Powanege, "who
s-iith he came from the Indians who dwell over the river, over against the
Monhatoes, where the plot is a working, that was this: that the Dutchmen
asked the Indians whether they would leave them at the last cast, or stand up
with them. And told the Indians thev should fear nothing, and not be dis-


coin-aged because the plot was discovered," &c.

. I I.I mi the interpreter had also a story to tell. He said, "this spring [!<).">:}.
O. S.] the Dutch governor went to Fort Anrania, [since Albany,] and first
went to a place called Jlddckscick, [Hackinsack,] a great place of Indians, from
rh:-nee to Monnesick, [Minisink,] thence to Opingona, thence to \Varranoke,
thence to Fort Anrania: And so far he went in his own person. From
i.hence he s; lit to Pocomtock, [Deerfield, on the Connecticut,] and he carried
with him many note of so wan, that is, bags of wampum, and delivered them
to the sagamores of the places, and they were to distribute them amongst their
men ; and withal he carried powder, shot, cloth, lead and gnus ; and told them
lie woidd get all the great Indians under him, and the English should have the
scum of the Indians, and he would have those sagamores with their men to
cut off the English, and to be at his command whenever he had use of them,
and he was to find them powder and shot till he had need of them. Further
he sent one Govert, a Dutchman, to Marsey, on Long Island, to Jftitunrthom,
the sagamore, to assist him and to do for him what he would have [him] do:
Hut the sagamore told him he would have nothing to [doj with it: whereupon
Govert gave the sagamore a great kettle to be silent. Nwtanaham told him he
had but 20 men, and the English had never done him wrong, [and] he had no
cause to fight against them. Further, he saith that *\'innj:rctl, the fiscal,* and
the Dutch governor were up two days in a close room, with other sagamores ;
and there was no speaking with any of them except when they came for a coal
of fire, f or the like. And much sewan was seen at that time in Ninnegret s
hand, and he carried none away with him ;" and that Ronnesseoke told him that
the governor bid him fly for his life, for the plot was now discovered.

Nevertheless, as for any positive testimony that Amtgrei was plotting against
the English, there is none. That he was in a room to avoid company, while
his physician was attending him, is very probable.

In a long letter, dated 20th May, 1< !.">:{, which the governor of New Amster-
dam, Peter Stuyvesant, wrote to the English, is the following passage : " It is
in part true, as your worships conclude, that, about January, there came a
strange Indian from the north, called Minnigretti commander of the NarrajTMi-
sets. But he came hither with a pass from Mr. John Winthrop. Upon whu h
pass, as we remember, the occasion of his coming was expressed, namely, to
be cured and healed ; and if, upon the other side of the river, there hath been
any assembly or meeting of the Indians, or of their sagamores, we know not
[of it.] We heard that he hath been upon Long Island, about Nayacke, where
he hath been for the most part of the winter, and hath had several Indians
with him, but what he hath negotiated with them remains tons unknown:
only this we know, that what your worships lay unto our charge are fals<>
reports, and feigned informations."

The war with Ascassasdtic, of which we shall give all the particulars in our
possession, was the next affair of any considerable moment in the life of

In 1654, the government of Rhode Island communicated to Massachusetts,
that the last summer, Ninigret. without any cause, "that he doth so much as
allege, fell upon the Long Island Indians, our friends and tributaries," and
killi'd many of them, and took others prisoners, and would not restore them.
"This summer he bath made two assaults upon them; in one whereof lie
killed a man and woman, that lived upon the land of the English, and withir,

* A Dulch officer, whose duty is similar to that of treasurer among the English,
t To lififht their pipes, doubtless the Dutch agreeing well, in the particular of sm >king
with the Indians.


one of their townships ; JUK! another Indian, that kept the cows of the Eng-
lish." II< V liad drau n many of the foreign Indians do\vii from Conneeticiit
and Hudson Rivers, who rendezvoused upon NV'mtlimp's [sland, where the)
killed some of his cattle.* This war began in L653, and continued ">e\erJ

The commissioners of the United Colonies seemed blind to all complaints
againM I 'urns; but the Narragansets were watched and harassed without
cea>ing. \Vherever we meet with an unpublished document of those times,
the (act is very apparent. The chief of the writers of the history of thai
p-riod copy from the records of the United Colonies, which accounts liu
their making out a good ease for the English and .Mohegans. Tlie spirit
which actuated the irrave commissioners is easily discovered, and I need onlv


relir my readers to the case of Jlliantunnomoh. Desperate errors reipiiiv
others, oftentimes still more desperate, until the first appear small compared
with the magnitude of the last! It is all along discoverable, that thos
venerable records are made up from one kind of evidence, and that when a
Narraganset appeared in his own defence, so many of his enemies stood
ready to give him the lie. that his indignant spirit could not stoop to contra-
dict or parley with them; and thus his assumed guilt passed on for histor;,.
The long-silenced and borne-down friend of the Indians of Moosehausic,J no
longer sleeps. Amidst his toils and perils, he found time to raise his pen in
their defence ; and though his letters for a season slept with him, they are now
awaking at the voice of day.


When the English had resolved, in 1654, to send a force against the Nar-
ragausets, because they had had difficulties and wars with Jlscassasotic, as we
have related, Mr. Williams expressed his views of the matter in a letter to the
governor of Massachusetts as follows : "The cause and root of all the present
mischiefs is the pride of two barbarians, Ascassasutick, the Long Island sachem,
and Nenekunat of the Narigenset. The former is proud and foolish, the latter
is proud and fierce. 1 have not seen him these many years, yet, from their
sober men, I hear he pleads, 1st. that Jlscassasotick, a very inferior sachem,
(bearing himself upon the English,) hath slain three or four of his people,
and since that sent him challenges and darings to fight and mend himself.
2d. He, Nenekunat, consulted by solemn messengers, with the chief of the Eng-
lish governors, Maj. Endicot,t\\eu governor of the Massachusetts, who sent him
an implicit consent to right himself: upon which they all plead that the English
have just occasion of displeasure. 3d. Alter he had taken revenge upon the
Long Islanders, and brought away about 14 captives, (divers of them chief
women,) yet he restored them all again, upon the mediation and desire of the
English. 4th. After this peace [was] made, the Long Islanders pretending
to visit JVenekunat at Block Island, slaughtered of his Narragansets near 30
persons, at midnight ; two of them of great note, especially WepiteammocWs
son, to whom JVenekunat was uncle. 5th. In the prosecution of this war,
although he had drawn down the inlanders to his assistance, yet, upon pro-
testation of the English against his proceedings, he retreated and dissolved his

The great Indian apostle looked not so much into these particulars, being
entirely engaged in the cause of the praying Indians: but yet we occasionally
meet with him, and will here introduce him, as an evidence against the
proceedings of Uncos, and his friends the commissioners:

" The case of the Nipmuk Indians, so far as by the best and most credible in-
i.'Iligence, I have understood, presented to the honored general court, [of Mas-
sachusetts,] 1. Uncas his men, at unawares, set upon an unarmed poor people,
and slew eight persons, and carried captive twenty-four women and children.
2. Some of these were subjects to Massachusetts government, by being the
subjects of Josias. || 3. They sued for relief to the worshipful governor and

Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 25 of 131)