Thomas Jefferson Papers

Erastus Granger to Thomas Jefferson, 8 December 1809

From Erastus Granger

Buffalo creek N.Y. Decr 8th 1809


having had the honor of receiving from you the appointments of Collector of the revenue for this district, and that of Indian agency to the six Nations; I take the liberty (as a small testimony of respect) of enclosing for your amusement, two Indian speeches, dilivered on different Occasions.—

I have every reason to believe the speech of Farmer’s Brother was dilivered by him, as now published, and that the translation is a literal one.—The speech of Red Jacket was dilivered in my presence—I wrote it down, sentence by sentence, and know it to be correct.—

These speeches go very far in confirming the Opinion (if confirmation was wanted) contended for by you, that nature has been as bountiful in bestowing rational faculties on the human species in the new World, as she has to those of the Old.—

I would remark, that the two Chiefs can neither write, read, nor speak a word of English.—

Wishing you the long enjoyment of health, and the greatest happiness alloted Man, I subscribe my self

with great respect, Sir, your most Obet humble servt

Erastus Granger

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thos Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 27 Dec. 1809 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Indian Speeches Delivered by Farmer’s Brother and Red Jacket, Two Seneca Chiefs (Canandaigua, N.Y., 1809).

Erastus Granger (1765–1826), a native of Suffield, Connecticut, was appointed by TJ surveyor and revenue inspector for the port of Buffalo Creek, New York, in 1803 and revenue collector at the same location two years later. He retained these positions until 1812. Granger also served as an agent to the Six Nations of Indians and as Buffalo’s postmaster, 1804–18, judge of Niagara County from its creation in 1808 until 1817, and supervisor of Buffalo, 1816–17. In his capacity as agent to the Iroquois, Granger helped persuade Red Jacket and other chiefs of the Six Nations to pledge their neutrality at the outbreak of the War of 1812 (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:460, 461, 2:8, 13, 226 [9, 21 Dec. 1803, 20 Dec. 1805, 6 Jan. 1806, 6 Mar. 1812]; H. Perry Smith, History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County [1884], 1:126–7, 2:29–32, 285, 354, 526–7; Charles M. Snyder, ed., Red and White on the New York Frontier, A Struggle for Survival: Insights from the Papers of Erastus Granger, Indian Agent, 1807–1819 [1978]).

In his Notes on the State of Virginia, TJ cited another example of Indian eloquence when he contended that human rational faculties were as powerful in America as in Europe (Notes, ed. Peden description begins Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, ed. William Peden, 1955 description ends , 62–3, 226–58).

Index Entries

  • Farmer’s Brother (Seneca chief) search
  • Granger, Erastus; identified search
  • Granger, Erastus; letters from search
  • Granger, Erastus; sends Indian speeches to TJ search
  • Indians; Seneca search
  • Indians; speeches by search
  • Indians; TJ on search
  • Indian Speeches Delivered by Farmer’s Brother and Red Jacket, Two Seneca Chiefs search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Indians search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on the State of Virginia search
  • Notes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); and Native Americans search
  • Red Jacket (Seneca chief); speech of search
  • Seneca Indians search