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not clearly known to them, they were repealed in England. *
To lay more completely before the public the importance of the Five Nations or Iroquois to the Colony of New York, as a barrier against the French and a means of controlling the West, Colden drew up his remarkable History of the Five Nations. Such a work was necessary when London merchants could assert to the King that the Five Nations lay so far from New York that French Indians lay between: and when they boldly declared before the Board of Trade that the Five Nations “ were two or three hundred leagues distant from Albany, and that they could not come to trade with the English but by going down the River St. Lawrence, and from thence through a lake, which broug nt them within eighteen leagues of Albany."
This was before the days when a British Minister discovered that Cape Breton was an island, and a short historical sketch of the Iroquois or Five Nations and their relations with the French of Canada on the one hand, and New York on the other, was needed to teach King and Council, Lords of Trade and other ruling powers, that the Mohawks lived
* Journal of the Legislative Council, 591.
on the Mohawk, within a day's journey of Albany, as well as to enlighten them on the real position, influence and power of that confederacy.
Years after Colden alluded to the ignorance of British statesmen, contrasting it with the extensive information possessed and constantly increased by the French.
Doctor Colden drew up his work under these circumstances, with little opportunity for research, relying in the main on the pa. pers of the Indian Commissioners and the French works of de la Potherie and La Hon. tan. It was printed by William Bradford, in 1727, and an exact reprint is here given, following all the typographical peculiarities and ornaments of the New York first printer, in order to give collectors an opportunity of having a fac-simile of the first local New York History written and printed in New York.
The first announcement of it is not without interest here, and I am indebted for it to George H. Moore, Esq., Librarian of the New York Historical Society, whose kindness has greatly facilitated an examination of the Colden papers, for which I am indebted to the Society.
The New York Gazette, No. 69, February 20th to February 27th, 1727, has :
“ ADVERTISEMENT. “There is now in the Press, and will shortly be Published, The History of the Five Indian Nations depending on the Province of New York, giving an Account of their Wars both with the Indians and Christians, from the First Settling of Canada and New-York, as also of their Treaties of Peace with the several Governments in North America.
“There is also a MAP of the great Lakes, Rivers and Indian Countries, shewing the Scituation of the several Indian Nations, from Canada to the branches of the Midillippi and the Upper Lake. Both Printed and Sold by William Bradford in New York.”
In No. 70 of the same paper, February 27th to March 6th, 1727, it is advertised:
“Will shortly be published— The History of the Five Indian Nations depending on the Province of New York. Printed and sold by William Bradford, in New York.”
In No. 71, March 6 to March 13, 1727: “Just Published,” etc., etc.
The work was reprinted in England in 1747 and 1750; and had these transatlantic editions reproduced that of Bradford, there would be little necessity for now presenting so exact a reprint: but in fact the alterations and omissions are so numerous, that students to whom these English editions are familiar have really no idea of what the work was as originally written by Colden; and the early New York edition, although cited in the last
edition of Lowndes as worth is. 6d., is really so scarce that a few years since not a copy was known to be in existence, and the Hon. Henry C. Murphy having succeeded in obtaining one, long enjoyed the reputation of possessing a unique copy. Mr. George Brinley,' of Hartford, Mr. T. H. Morrell, and quite recently Mr. William Menzies, noblest collector of Bradford imprints, who first began to gather the neglected issues of the Caxton of the Middle Colonies, have succeeded in obtaining copies. Others may appear, but they will be prizes, beyond the reach of ordinary students or even ordinary collectors.
It is unnecessary to give here a collation of this edition, as the reader has it before him.
The work at once attracted attention in England, and, according to Watts, in his Bibliotheca Britannica, was reprinted in London in 1730; but this edition, if it really existed, seems to have escaped recent bibliographers.
The New York edition of 1727 consisted of five hundred copies, which were soon taken up, and, in 1743, Colden wrote to a friend in London that “not one copy now for several years past can anywhere be obtained.”
This friend, Mr. Peter Collinson, took a warm interest in the work, and frequently urged Dr. Colden to continue it. To these
requests the author at last yielded, and prepared a second part, bringing the history down to the Peace of Ryswick. The manuscript of the preface to this part, now preserved in the New York Historical Society, bears date March, 1742. He at the same time re-wrote the Introduction, and transmitted the manuscript by two occasions to Mr. Collinson.
In a letter dated April 9, 1742, he says: “I now send you the greatest part of the Indian History continued to the Peace of Reswick, which I presume to put under your tutelage because I may truly say, that it is owing to you that it ever had a birth, by your giving me your approbation of the First Part, and desiring it to be continued as a Work which you thought may be usefull, for I had several years laid aside all thoughts of it.” Similar expressions occur in a letter written the next year.
Mr. Colden supposed that the difficulties with France would be settled by negotiation, as is evident by the concluding words of the Preface, which were printed as he wrote them when no longer applicable.
This Preface after reciting the struggle which led to the publication of the first Part, and the prosperous trade which resulted from Governor Burnet's policy, adds :