Friday, March 19, 2010

The Hudson Valley Land Case as told by Patrick Frazier, Part 1

Land conflicts (as well as military conflicts) were discussed at the Albany Congress of 1754. In this particular artist's conception, Benjamin Franklin appears to be ignoring the plea of a chief or is possibly just looking towards us because he is "easier to draw" that way.
In one of my first posts, I recommended that you read The Mohicans of Stockbridge, by Patrick Frazier. The book has merited mention in several posts since that time and needed to be kept out of my previous post so as not to upstage the remarkable document which is its topic. Having read that post, you're ready for a preview of that same legal case as told by Patrick Frazier on pages 155-170 of The Mohicans of Stockbridge.

The Highlands patent covered "about 200,000 acres" and Daniel Nimham's father and grandfather had "complained frequently to the patentee and his heirs about the patent"(page 155). In the wake of the Seven Years War (often called the "French and Indian War"), Chief Nimham, as you may know, moved his Wappinger remnant - roughly two hundred people - to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Soon afterwards, the estate's heirs, Roger Morris, Beverly Robinson, and Philip Philipse, "asserted their claim and even extended it by nearly 5,000 acres" (pages 155-156). Sir William Johnson, an advocate for the Indians made appeals to the authorities which were "met with polite but evasive answers" (page 157).

Sir William Johnson ---->

However, a hearing was granted for the Indians before Lieutenant Governor Cadawaller Colden on March 5, 1765:

Daniel Nimham, speaking in English, presented the Wappinger claim to the territory based on the ancient tribal heritage. Then he interpreted the proceedings for the other Indians, while [Samuel] Munrow [a white ally of the Wappingers whose own self-interest was also at stake], and the representative of the patent heirs debated the issues. The Indians, somewhat intimidated by the imperious air of the council, were taken aback when Beverly Robinson produced a curious Indian deed for the area in question, dated 1702 and signed by several Indians. Although one of the old tribesmen recognized some of the names, he recollected no transaction that the deed described. Samuel Munrow was allowed to examine the deed only briefly, but he could see flaws and possible fraud even so.
Before they had to leave, Chief Nimham asked to hear a verdict from the Lieutenant Governor. Colden conferred with his council and declared the deed to be good and, Frazier also reports that Colden "told the Indians to trouble the government no more" (page 158).

No comments :