Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Indian Land Case in the Colony of New York, part 3 of 3

*Read part 1 of this series*
*Read part 2 of this series*

Henry Moore (below) was the Royal Governor of the Colony of New York from 1765 to 1769.

The remainder of Patrick Frazier's thirteenth chapter in The Mohicans of Stockbridge is impossible to summarize in the space of one blogpost. As is often the case, his research turns up a lot of details that can hardly be called insignificant. Nevertheless, for those of you who won't be reading Frazier's book soon, here's what happened next:

The four Stockbridge chiefs returned to the colony of Massachusetts full of optimism after having been treated so well in London. They were told that the earl of Shelburne would send instructions on their case to New York's Governor, Henry Moore, and there is no reason to doubt that those instructions were sent. On the other hand, Governor Moore's willingness to heed those instructions is another matter. It appears that just too much was riding on the case - I mean that Moore's cronies had a lot to lose if he ruled in favor of the Indians. For that reason he apparently managed to ignore any pressure that may have been applied from London.

Here's how the case was resolved according to Patrick Frazier (page 169):

At the end, Governor Moore asked [Wappinger Chief Daniel] Nimham's counsel if they thought they had had a fair trial. The lawyers avoided answering directly. The 'several exceptions' they had taken to the [contested] deed were, in their minds, rather fundamental legal points. Moore closed the proceedings without rendering a final decision. A few days later the decision suddenly appeared in the public press. The governor and the council declared that the [land] patent was good and the purchase valid, that the Wappingers had no right to the land, and that they had been induced to complain by squatters who wanted support for their own claims. The Wappingers' complaint was "vexatious and unjust, and...accordingly dismissed.
This decision was not only a shock to the Indians but it was also a shock to their schoolteacher, Timothy Woodbridge, who wrote a number of letters in a futile attempt to advocate for the Indians.

A contemporary account of this "Indian Land Case" exists. Learn about it from this post.

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