Thomas Jefferson Papers

III. Address of Handsome Lake, [15 March 1802]

III. Address of Handsome Lake

[15 Mch. 1802]


I thank the Lord for a clear sky and bright day to hear the answer of our good Father, The President of the United States—


The four Angels have directed that all the lands which have been reserved for the use of your red children, should be secured to them for their comfort so long as the sun shall shine, and this they desire may be done, by giving them separate deeds for each tract to which they are entitled, which when received will be placed for preservation in the hands of good sober young men of their Nation


In consequence of a treaty held with your red children the Seneca’s, in the year 1797, they sold to certain Agents of the United States, or to private adventerurs, all their lands, excepting a certain reservation on Cataragus Creek, which was afterwards surveyed by Mr. Ellicott, the lines run and bounds set by him and a Deed executed to them. This Deed has been lost, and your red children look to the justice of their Father the President for a renewal of it—


Your red children state to their father the President, that they are entitled to another tract of land on the Allegany, containing forty two square miles. This has also been surveyed by Mr Ellicott, but no deed has been given to secure them in the possession of it. Your red children entertain fears that for want of some written instrument, when the transaction by which this reservation was meant to be secured, shall be forgotten, they may be dispossessed of their land—

FC (Lb in DNA: RG 75, LSIA); in a clerk’s hand; date supplied from notation at foot of Document VI; at head of text: “Conyatauyou, or Handsome Lake.”

In the transaction between the Senecas and Robert Morris at Big Tree (Geneseo) IN THE YEAR 1797, the nation gave up rights to most of the land it claimed west of the Genesee River. A RESERVATION at Cattaraugus Creek, which flowed into Lake Erie, was one of the tracts that the Senecas retained. Joseph ELLICOTT, Andrew Ellicott’s brother, was affiliated with the Holland Land Company, which had bought Morris’s rights to the purchase. Among the places reserved to the Senecas by the agreement of September 1797 was a 42–square-mile TRACT OF LAND on the upper Allegheny River on the New York State side of the boundary with Pennsylvania (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, 1:627; Catharine Van Cortlandt Mathews, Andrew Ellicott: His Life and Letters, [New York, 1908], 207; Granville Ganter, ed., The Collected Speeches of Sagoyewatha, or Red Jacket [Syracuse, N.Y., 2006], xxxiv; Vol. 32:549; Vol. 35:695–6).

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