George Washington Papers

Speech to Oneida Indians, July–August 1778

Speech to Oneida Indians

Document not found: Speech to Oneida Indians [July-August 1778]. This document, in James McHenry’s writing, was offered for sale in The Frank T. Siebert Library of the North American Indian and the American Frontier, Sotheby’s sale 7315, 21 May 1999, item 189. It is dated by the abstractor’s assertion that the speech mentions “the British evacuation of Philadelphia, the British defeat at Monmouth, and a French fleet at Rhode Island assisting Boston warriors.” One page reproduced in the catalog reads: “Brothers—We are going to take leave of each other. You have been with us a long time and behaved faithfully. But Before you go I have several things to say—I would confirm to you the good will of my heart towards all of your nation, the good Oneidas. And I would intrust you with a message to the Sachems and warriors of the Senecas who do not mind what is just nor do what is right—The Senecas have long done wrong—The have not acted like the Oneidas who are a brave and wise people.

“Brothers—You have fought along with our warriors—you have helped them to take one large army and to recover two of our great Towns Boston and Philadelphia—you are now to go home—You will take the news to your nation that the swarms of warriors which the King of Engl⟨and⟩ (who keeps himself beyond the great water) are almost all cut off—They are now weak as little children—They fled from one of our great Towns that they boasted to keep as long as trees grow, leaving behind them very rich goods—you.”

The abstractor quotes a later portion, which reads: “The Senecas are not like the Oneidas, but have lifted up the hatchet with our enemies, and destroyed our corn, and burned our houses, and drunk the blood of our harmless wives and little children. They have been very wicked and very cruel—and this has made our wise men angry, and kindled the fire of our warriors against them. … if they do not immediately bury the bloody hatchet under a big mountain, this army and all the great warriors in America will come up against them.”

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