Description

    [Iroquois in Pennsylvania: 1735] Robert Charles Important Autograph Letter Signed "Robt. Charles," one page, 7.25" x 11.75". Philadelphia, August 13, 1735. To Conrad [Weiser]. In full, "You have herewith a Letter for Shekallamy on the subject I mentioned to you, pray interpret it to him and if you think any thing is necessary to be added you may do it freely as if it were contained in the Letter. I find it will be necessary to gett the Paper out of his hands, & you will manage it so that no offence may be given, for the whole Blame must be thrown on the indiscreet foolish conduct of the Indians themselves which renders all our Precautions fruitless. The Letter to Shekallamy I think need not be left with him, after it is interpreted it may remain with you." German-born Conrad Weiser (1696-1760) came with his family to America in 1712 and settled on the New York frontier. Living near the Mohawks, he learned the language of the Iroquois and helped the German community in their dealings with the Indians. With knowledge of the language and customs of the Iroquois Confederacy (Six Nations), Weiser and his wife and children moved to Pennsylvania in 1729. Provincial Secretary James Logan hired him to guide the new Pennsylvania Indian policy recognizing Iroquois dominance over the Lenni Lenape (Delaware Indians) and guaranteeing a stable and safe frontier. Robert Charles, the writer of this letter, succeeded Logan as Provincial Secretary in 1726. Weiser worked closely with Chief Shikellamy, supervisor for the Iroquois Confederacy overseeing the Lenni Lenape tribe and protecting its southern border. He served as Weiser's guide on his journeys into the frontier of Pennsylvania and New York. The Lenni Lenape later became the first Indian tribe to enter into a treaty with the United States during the Revolutionary War, supplying the Revolutionary army with warriors and scouts in exchange for food supplies and promises. This amazing letter had been sent to Weiser with a letter to Shikellamy which Charles asks Weiser to translate, giving him permission to add anything he thinks necessary. He asks Weiser to get a paper out of the Iroquois chief's hands without offending him, telling Weiser that the entire incident is the fault of "the indiscreet foolish conduct of the Indians themselves." It was this relationship between Weiser and Shikellamy that kept the Pennsylvania frontier stable and peaceful until the French and Indian War during which the Lenni Lenape allied themselves with the French. Shikellamy died in 1748, Weiser in 1760. Penciled notes by collector in lower blank area. Light spotting and soiling. Glassine repairs at folds on verso. Fine condition. Ex. Henry E. Luhrs Collection.


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    October, 2007
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