Description

    Sir William Johnson Autograph Letter Signed "W Johnson." Two and one-half pages of a bifolium, Johnson Hall [New York], January 29, 1772. Sir William Johnson, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Colonies of British America from 1755 until his death two years after writing this letter, writes to Governor John Penn Jr., congratulating Penn on his new position as governor of Pennsylvania. Only nine years after the close of the French and Indian War, Sir Johnson also informs Penn about important Indian matters. Age-toned paper; separations at some folds, some have been repaired.

    Johnson writes in part: "[I] take this first opportunity . . . to congratulate you on your taking upon you the government of Pensilvania which I do with great sincerity from the Esteem I have for all the Branches of your Family. . . . The Shawnees, Delawares, Munsies &c have been, and are to be considered as Dependants on the Five Nations, and having nothing to do with the Western Indians farther than in an intercourse common with all Indians in time of Peace. But as they resided at a Distance from the chief residences of the Five Nations, I thought it necessary to appoint a Deputy for the District of the Ohio &c in which they were comprehended. During the War and afterwards for a time they partook liberally of his Majestys Bounty, and another officer was appointed as a commissary to inspect the Trade at Fort Pitt & prevent abuses, but the Expenses . . . were thought too great by the Crown, and therefore by his Majesty orders the commissary were discontinued." The letter continues with content about the expenses of the Department of Indian Affairs. Johnson also informs Penn that "an proper officer is now at the Ohio, to hear them [Indians] when ever they have any business; So, that this application to you is only from a few People, who want more favours than they deserve, or than government inclines to bestow, not only without the knowledge but contrary to the inclination of the Five Nations, as they are a busy People they but too often make us of, because that they are connected with Some Emigrants from the Senecas, & some others of the Five Nations who have removed from under the influence of their chiefs to the Ohio." The letter ends by discussing trade.

    Sir William Johnson had served as Major General in the British forces during the French and Indian War. His estate in the Mohawk River Valley covered over 400,000 acres. Johnson Hall, built in 1763 and located northwest of the present city of Johnstown, New York, was Johnson's home until his death in 1774. Molly Brant, sister of Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, was Johnson's common law wife and would aid the Loyalist cause during the upcoming Revolutionary War; they had eight children. From the Donald P. Dow Collection.


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    9th Thursday
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