George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Commissioners for Indian Affairs, 5 June 1779

From the Commissioners for Indian Affairs

Albany [N.Y.] June 5th 1779.


Your Excellency’s Letter of the 28th covering the Acts of Congress of the 17th & 22d we had the Honor to receive Yesterday.1

The Line of Conduct which your Excellency points out as necessary to be observed with the Indians meets our entire Approbation.

We shall immediately try to engage the Onondagas to bring off Brandt and Butler.2

If any Exchange of prisoners should take place your Directions for conducting it will be strictly complied with. We have the Honor to be with perfect Esteem & Respect Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

Ph. Schuyler
President of the board of Commissioners for Indian affairs


1Schuyler is referring to GW’s letter to the Commissioners for Indian Affairs of 28 May. For the congressional resolutions relating to peace with the Indians (17 May) and prisoner exchanges (22 May), see JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 14:600, 636.

2Joseph Brant, also known as Thayendanegea, was a Mohawk chief and captain in the British Indian Department who earned notoriety for rallying Iroquois and Loyalists against the Americans on the New York frontier. His command whipped a large contingent of New York militia at Oriskany on 6 Aug. 1777 and participated in attacks on Cobleskill, German Flats, and Cherry Valley during 1778. Among the outnumbered defenders at Newtown, now Elmira, on 29 Aug. 1779, he experienced a rare defeat at the hands of Maj. Gen. John Sullivan’s army. Brant regrouped and launched offensive operations against pro-American Oneidas in 1780 and American forces in the Ohio country in 1781. After the war, Brant secured land for his people on the Grand River in Ontario, Canada, and worked to unify the northwestern Indians in resistance to American expansion.

Brant’s disruptive efforts on the frontier often complemented those of John Butler, whom a British official praised as “brave, prudent, and perfectly attached to government, more strongly so since the alliance with the French to whom he has a most unconquerable aversion” (Frederick Haldimand to George Germain, 13 Sept. 1779, in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution, description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends 17:211–13).

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