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The Dutch & the Iroquois
by Rev Charles Hall c1882
Mr. President, and Members of the Long Island Historical Society:
THE propositions which I ventured to make to you in December, and which I now offer to develop and submit to your decision, whether they have any substantial foundation in our colonial records, were mainly these:
First -- That there was a manifest Providence in the fact that the Dutch, rather than the English, first came into possession of the valleys of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, and thus into friendly relations with the great Amphictyonic League of the Iroquois, originally known as the Five Nations, and later, after their absorption by conquest of the Tuscaroras, as the Six Nations; that they gained their lasting friendship and bound them by a series of treaties, to which the English afterward succeeded, and which were maintained without a break, until an epoch of most remarkable interest, which, for the purposes of this paper, I shall fix near the middle of the eighteenth century, at the fall of Quebec (1759).
Second -- That after the discovery of the Mississippi River by Marquette and Joliet, in 1673, and the completion of that discovery by La Salle, in 1682, the magnificent plan was conceived by the ruling powers of Francefirst by Colbert, the financial minister of Louis XIV., who succeeded Cardinal Mazarin, and was then and afterward pursued with inflexible purpose and unvarying promise of success, to confine the English and Protestant race to the narrow region Iying east of the Alleghanies.
In process of time it became known to the French that the Iroquois held the key of the position, and their friendship, conversion, conquest, or destruction became of the last importance to the success of this plan. All efforts in either direction failed, contrary to the usual experience of the French with other tribes, and failed because of the influences traceable to the original impressions made by the policy of the Dutch settlers, and bequeathed by them to the English in succession. So far as human eyes can see, it was largely due to this fact that the vast regions Iying west of the mountain ranges, before-mentioned, were not finally possessed and fully Latinized by the French nation. Singularly enough, after the fall of Quebec and the disastrous ending of this scheme, the Iroquois willingly sought the friendship and in numbers accepted the religion of the Catholic Church, and many of them settled on the northern side of the lakes and the River St. Lawrence.
Third -- A subordinate proposition was submitted, that the call of William Pitt to the head of affairs in England, for a very brief period, was an important element in the final result. He gave unity and directness to the weak and distracted counsels, both at home and in the coIonies, at the critical moment. He imparted vigor to the final campaigns, unlike all those which preceded, which drove the French and Indians from Fort Duquesne and from Fort Frontenac, and, with the regular movement of a drama, at last compelled Montcalm to account for the massacre of Fort William Henry on the plains of Abraham. But it ought never to be forgotten that the rock on which the scheme of Colbert and his successors, which would have changed the destinies of the world, was wrecked, was the inveterate hatred of the Six Nations to the French, or, in other words, their friendship originally secured by the few humble Dutch colonists of Fort Orange, where the city of Albany now stands.
In developing such a series of propositions, extending from 1609, or say 1621, until the middle of the succeeding century (1759), and rich in so many side issues, you perceive that one must and can follow only a single thread of history, and establish only certain pregnant facts between very narrow limits. First of all, then, by way of preface, allow me to say a few words on what is meant by "a manifest Providence." I do not intend to draw on your faith in the supernatural or the miraculous. I include in the word a vast field of that human ignorance where men are seeking only their own private ends, and aiming only at objects in the limits of their narrow horizon, while they are really working out some mighty order of destiny which lies far outside of their vision.
Mr Hall then proceeds to outline the influence the Dutch had and its direct effect on relations with the Iroquois. Footnoted, with a full-color cover - no index or illustrations. 55 pages P $8.95
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