Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754

By Timothy J. Shannon | Go to book overview

[5] The Treaty Conference

The fire here is burnt out.

--Mohawk speaker Abraham, July 2, 1754

On Saturday, July 6, an encounter occurred between colonists and Indians at the Albany Congress that was not recorded in the official minutes. While John Worthington and Meshech Weare attended a meeting in the courthouse, their fellow New Hampshire commissioners Theodore Atkinson and Richard Wibbard remained in their lodgings. At about 10:00 A.M. an Indian delegation led by Hendrick and including "2 Sachems of Each Tribe and Some few others" arrived. Atkinson and Wibbard made a speech and gave presents to these Indians in the name of the New Hampshire government. The Indians responded with a speech of their own, in which they "gave us the name of Sosaquasowane" and asked for "a Discription of our Province." The New Hampshire commissioners obliged, and Hendrick "Said he had been there." Shortly thereafter, Atkinson and Wibbard gave the Indians some wine and excused themselves to join the other colonial commissioners in the courthouse. But they had not finished their business with the Indians. During the Saturday morning meeting, the chiefs hinted that "the[y] Expected Some thing as a Treat when they united and gave a Name." In particular, they "Bespoke a Cow." Atkinson and Wibbard purchased one, and on the following Monday morning they sent for Hendrick, who "came and Liked her." Some younger Indians retrieved the cow, which they slaughtered in the Indians' camp.1

Although not a part of the Albany Congress's minutes, this meeting offers an important glimpse into the nature of the diplomacy conducted there. Treaty conferences consisted of two parallel sets of negotiations. Unofficial private meetings, such as the encounter described above, began before the formal opening of a treaty conference and continued until its conclusion. In them, Indians and colonists presented grievances, ironed

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1
McAnear, "Personal Accounts,"738-39.

-141-

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