Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Israel Pemberton, 11 December 1758

From Israel Pemberton9

MS not found; reprinted from extract in [Charles Thomson], An Enquiry into the Causes of the Alienation of the Delaware and Shawanese Indians from the British Interest, … (London, 1759), pp. 183–4.

December 11, 1758

At the late Treaty Teedyuscung confirmed the Purchase of 1749;* his Motives for this Confirmation, were to engage the Six Nations to confirm the Wyoming Lands to him and his People;2 but such Measures were pursued, by our proprietary Managers, to prevent it, and to set the Indians at variance with each other, that all our Arguments, Persuasions and Presents were scarce sufficient to keep them from an open Rupture.

The Business was shamefully delayed from Day to Day, which the Minutes are calculated to screen; but it well known to us who attended, that the Time was spent in attempting Teedyuscung’s Downfal, and silencing or contradicting the Complaints he had made; but he is really more of a politician than any of his Opponents, whether in or out of our proprietary Council; and if he could be kept sober, might probably soon become Emperor of all the neighbouring Nations.

His old Secretary not being present, when the Treaty began,3 he did not demand the Right of having one, and thought it unnecessary, as he was determined rather to be a Spectator than active in public Business, so that we are imposed on in some Minutes of Consequence.4

General Forbes’s proceeding with so much Caution has furnished Occasion for many imprudent Reflections; but I believe he pursued the only Method, in which he could have succeeded.5 Whether he is a Soldier or not I cannot judge, nor is it my Business; but I am certain he is a considerate understanding Man; and it is a Happiness to these Provinces, that he prudently determined from the entrance on the Command here, to make use of every rational Method of conciliating the Friendship of the Indians, and drawing them off from the French;6 so that since we had his Countenance and Directions, our pacific Negotiations have been carried on with some Spirit, and have had the desired Effect.

The Express left the General at Fort Duquesne (now Pitt’sburgh)7 on the 30th ult. and says he would stay to meet the Indians, of whom he expected five hundred in a Day or two, having heard they were near him on the other Side the River.8 He will, no doubt, provide for divers Matters shamefully neglected at Easton, where our proprietary Agents wisely releas’d to the Indians all the Lands westward of the Mountains,9 without so much as stipulating for the keeping a trading House in any Part of that extensive Country.

This Neglect is now much noticed; and as we are assur’d there will be a great Want of Goods there this Winter, I am fitting out two Waggons with about £5 or 600 worth of Strouds,1 Blankets, Matchcoats, &c. which shall be sent to the General either to be sold or given away in such Manner, as may most effectually promote the public Interest: The Weather being pleasant and mild, and the Roads good, I am in hopes they will be conveyed to Ray’s-Town in a few Days. Our Friendly Association have, out of their Fund, expended upwards of £2000 but the Cost of these Goods must be paid (if they are given away) out of the Contributions of the Menonists and Swengfelders, who put about £1500 into my Hands for these Purposes.2 I am, &c.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9For the identification of the author and addressee of the letter from which this extract was taken and the circumstances of its first printing, see headnote to the document immediately above.

1By the purchase of 1749, the Proprietors acquired title to a rectangular area bounded on the south by the Kittatinny Hills, on the west by the Susquehanna River, on the east by the Delaware River, and on the north by a line drawn “from Mahoniahy Creek on Susquehannah to Leheighwochter Creek on Delaware.” “Benjamin Chew’s Journal of a Journey to Easton, 1758,” Van Doren and Boyd, Indian Treaties, p. 317. This note was probably written by BF. Toward the end of the Easton Treaty Teedyuscung admitted that this had been a legitimate sale. Ibid., p. 237.

2Teedyuscung wished to settle his people permanently in the Wyoming Valley. See above, VII, 282 n.

3Charles Thomson arrived, however, no later than October 11. Chew’s Journal, p. 313.

4Thomson had also complained of the untrustworthiness of the official minutes; see the preceding document.

5Gen. John Forbes’s army captured its objective, Ft. Duquesne, on Nov. 25, 1758.

6For Forbes’s assiduous efforts to conciliate the friendship of the Indians, see esp. Alfred P. James, ed., Writings of General John Forbes (Menasha, Wis., 1938), pp. 81–2, 109, 127, 137, 180–1.

7“I have used the freedom of giving your name to Fort DuQuesne, as I hope it was in some measure the being actuated by your spirits that now makes us Masters of the place.” Forbes to William Pitt, Nov. 27, 1758, James, ed., Writings of Forbes, p. 269.

8The express reached Philadelphia on or a little before December 11. Forbes enclosed a letter to Denny, dated November 26, in which he announced his intentions of conferring with the Indians. The General “also sent word to Philadelphia describing the need of goods” with which to supply the Indians. Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 232–4; Theodore Thayer, Israel Pemberton (Phila., 1943), p. 171.

9See the preceding document.

1Coarse warm cloth.

2Although Pemberton dispatched the two wagons from Philadelphia on December 13, they did not reach Pittsburgh until April 30, 1759. While the goods were in transit, the trustees of the Friendly Association objected to his use of the Mennonite and Schwenkfelder funds; so he returned the money to the Friendly Association, paid for the goods himself, and traded them to Indians at Pittsburgh. Thayer, Pemberton, pp. 171–4; John W. Jordan, ed., “James Kenny’s ‘Journal to the Westward,’ 1758–59,” PMHB, XXXVII (1913), 395–449.

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

º *This was a Purchase made by the Proprietors from the Six Nations, of Lands claimed by the Delawares.1

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