Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
December 15, 1892


Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.


[Rev. W. O. Raymond, M. A.]

So important did the Americans deem the assistance of the eastern Indians, that Congress, four days after the declaration of independence, passed a resolution declaring it highly expedient to employ the Indians, and authorizing George Washington to call forth and engage the Maliseets and Micmacs.

Washington wrote several letters to the different tribes in the year 1776, one of which is known to have been in the possession of the Passamaquoddies in 1852, and may be yet in existence.  It read as follows:

Brothers of Passamaquodia: I am glad to hear by Major Shaw that you accepted the chain of Friendship which I sent you last February from Cambridge, & that you are determined to keep it bright and unbroken.  When I first heard that you refused to send any of your warriors to my assistance when called upon by our brothers of St. John, I did not know what to think.  I was afraid that some enemy had turned your hearts against me.  But I am since informed that all your young men were employed in hunting, which was the reason of their not comming.  This has made my mind easy and I hope you will always in future join with your brothers of St. John & Penobscot when required.  I have desired my brother the Govr of Massachusetts Bay, to pay you the money which Capt. Smith promised you for sending my letters to the Micmack Indians.

Brothers: I have a piece of news to tell you which I hope you will attend to.  Our enemy, the King of Great Britain, endeavored to stir up all the Indians from Canada to South Carolina against us.  But our brethren of the six Nations & their allies the Shawanese & Delewares would not harken to the advice of his Messengers sent among them, but kept fast hold of the ancient covenant chain.  The Cherokees & the Southern tribes were foolish enough to listen to them and take up the hatchet against us.  Upon this our Warriors went into their country, burnt their houses, destroyed their corn and obliged them to sue for peace and give hostages for their future good behavior.

Now Brothers never let the king’s wicked counsellor turn your hearts against me and your brethren of this country, but bear in mind what I told you last February & what I tell you now.

In token of my friendship I send you this from my army on the banks of the Great River Deleware, this 24th day of December, 1776.

Colonel John Allan, of Machias, appointed by the Americans superintendent of the eastern Indians in 1777, plays a prominent part in connection with the attitude assumed by the Passamaquoddies during the war.  He was a man of great natural qualification for such a post and had further the very great advantage of a long and intimate acquaintance with the Indians in his business as a trader.  He claims to have had frequent interviews with the principal men of all the tribes in Acadia and to have visited the principal camping grounds from Penobscot to Bay Verte.

It may be stated in passing that Col. Allan was a native of Scotland, but came to Halifax with his father in 1749, being then but four years old.  He represented the township of Cumberland in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 1770 till 1776, when he abandoned his home and property, went to Machias, and there became the most persevering and troublesome opponent the British had in all eastern New England.  But for his personal exertions and great influence with the Indians, it is not at all improbable that the Americans would have been compelled to abandon their outpost at Machias after the capture of Penobscot by General McLean in 1779.

Allan relied upon his personal influence to secure the Micmacs for the Americans; in this he failed.  ‘We do not comprehend,’ said the Micmacs, ‘what all this quarelling is about.  How comes it that Old England and New should quarrel and come to blows?  The Father and the Son to fight is terrible.  Old France and Canada did not do so; we cannot think of fighting ourselves till we know who is right and who is wrong.’

They assured Col. Allan that they desired to remain on friendly terms with the Americans; but he seems to have doubted their sincerity, and in his report to the Council of Massachusetts records a not very flattering opinion of the Indian character:

‘They think among themselves it is a great qualification to use deception in these affairs and practice dissimulation and use every art to gain their ends.  Where they perceive an opportunity to get something, they will exert every faculty to obtain it.

Altho’ they are endued with some good properties, and are capable of improvement, the French and English, and, I am sorry to say, the latter in particular, have greatly inculcated every vice and impared any virtue they were possessed of.’

Allan further states, ‘the Indians are generally actuated according to the importance or influence any one has who lives among them.’  ‘They are credulous to a degree, will listen to every report, and generally believe it, and think everything true that is told them.’

Allan’s own words, as here quoted, sufficiently explain the attitude of the Passamaquoddies during the Revolution.  The influences at first brought to bear upon them were chiefly those of such American partizans as Col. Jonathan Eddy, Stephen Smith, John Preble, Capt. John Lane, Col. John Allan and Capt. Thos. Fletcher, the latter the interpreter who accompanied the Massachusetts exploring party in 1764.

Stephen Smith was placed in charge of the truck-house established by the Americans at Machias, 1776; and he complains of being obliged to give 8 shillings a pound for beaver to hinder the Indians trading with Nova Scotia.  The sentiments of the savages at this time, however, were hostile to the English.  Pierre Toma, Ambroise, and a few men from Passamaquoddy, accompanied Jonathan Eddy in his unsuccessful expedition to Fort Cumberland, in November, 1776.

[Our reader will have noticed several obviously typographical errors in recent articles of this series.  As words are sometimes intentionally misspelled in the quotations, following literally the spelling of the originals, it is the more desirable that no other misspelled words should occur.  Those who are keeping the series for further reference, therefore, will please make the following corrections:-In the heading of Article xliii., the first words should be ‘NEW WARRINGTON.’  The second word in fifteenth line of seventh paragraph in the same article should be ‘of.’  In Article xliv., the first word in the second line of fourth paragraph should be ‘restrictions.’  In the third line of the ninth paragraph, ‘convey’ should be ‘convoy.’  In Article xlv., the word ‘conference’ is misspelled in the paragraph beginning with the name of Ambrose Var.  In the quotation which follows the next paragraph, the first word of the second line should be ‘use;’ the other omissions of letters reproduce contractions and blunders in the original.

The note at the end of Article xliv. concerning the carved stone of Lake Utopia is incorrect; the stone is still in the museum of the Natural History Society, in St. John.]