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Remonstrance of the Pennsylvania Frontiersmen: On the Indians, 1764

We, Matthew Smith and James Gibson, in behalf of ourselves and his Majesty's faithful and loyal subjects, the inhabitants of the frontier counties of Lancaster, York, Cumberland, Berks, and Northampton, humbly beg leave to remonstrate and lay before you the following grievances, which we submit to your wisdom for redress....

During the late and present Indian War, the frontiers of this province had been repeatedly attacked and ravaged by skulking parties of the Indians, who have with the most savage cruelty murdered men, women, and children, without distinction, and have reduced near a thousand families to the most extreme distress. It grieves us to the very heart to see such of our frontier inhabitants as have escaped savage fury with the loss of their parents, their children, their wives or relatives, left destitute by the public, and exposed to the most cruel poverty and wretchedness, while upwards of an hundred and twenty of these savages, who are with great reason suspected of being guilty of these horrid barbarities, under the mask of friendship, have procured themselves to be taken under the protection of the government, with a view to elude the fury of the brave relatives of the murdered, and are now maintained at the public expense. Some of these Indians now in the barracks of Philadelphia, are confessedly a part of the Wyalusing Indians, which tribe is now at war with its, and the others are the Moravian Indians, who, living with us under the cloak of friendship, carried on a correspondence with our known enemies on the Great Island. We cannot but observe, With sorrow and indignation, that some persons in this province are at pains to extenuate the barbarous cruelties practised by these savages on our murdered brethren and relatives, which are shocking to human nature, and must pierce every heart but that of the hardened perpetrators or their abettors; nor is it less distressing to hear others pleading that, although the Wyalusing Tribe is at war with us, yet that part of it which is under the protection of the government may be friendly to the English, and innocent. In what nation under the sun was it ever the custom that when a neighbouring nation took up arms, not an individual should be touched but only the persons that offered hostilities? Who ever proclaimed war with a part of a nation, and not with the whole? Had these Indians disapproved of the perfidy of their tribe, and been willing to cultivate and preserve friendship with us, why did they not give notice of the war before it happened, as it is known to be the result of long deliberations, and a pre-concerted combination among them? Why did they not leave their tribe immediately and come among us before there was ground to suspect them, or war was actually waged with their tribe? No, they stayed amongst them, were privy to their murders and ravages, until we had destroyed their provisions, and when they could no longer subsist at home, they come, not as deserters, but as friends, to be maintained through the winter, that they may be able to scalp and butcher us in the spring....

We humbly conceive that it is contrary to the maxims of good policy, and extremely dangerous to our frontiers, to suffer any Indians, of what tribe soever, to live within the inhabited parts of this province while we are engaged in an Indian war, as experience has taught us that they are all perfidious, and their claim to freedom and independency puts it in their power to act as spies, to entertain and give intelligence to our enemies, and to furnish them with provisions and warlike stores. To this fatal intercourse between our pretended friends and open enemies, we must ascribe the greatest of the ravages and murders that have been committed in the course of this and the last Indian war. We, therefore, pray that this grievance be taken under consideration and remedied....

In the late Indian war this province, with others of his Majesty's colonies, gave rewards for Indian scalps, to encourage the seeking them in their own country as the most likely means of destroying or reducing them to reason, but no such encouragement has been given in this war, which has damped the spirits of many brave men who are willing, to venture their lives in parties against the enemy. We, therefore, pray that public rewards may be proposed for Indian scalps, which may be adequate to the dangers attending enterprises of this nature....

Signed on behalf of ourselves, and by appointment of a great number of the frontier inhabitants.

MATTHEW SMITH

JAMES GIBSON


Source:

From Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, Vol. 9 (Philadelphia: J. Severns and Co., 1852), 138-142.


This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

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© Paul Halsall, July 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu