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A Short VIEW
Form of Government
YT is necessary to know something of the
Form of Government of the People whose A History one reads. A few words will serve to give the Reader a general Notion of that of the Five Nations, because it still remains under Original Simplicity, free from those complicated Contrivances which have become necessary to those Nations where Deceit and Cunning have increased as much as their Knowledge and Wisdom.
The Five Nations (as their Name denotes) consist of so many Tribes or Nations joyn'd together by a League or Confederacy, like the United Provinces, without any Superiority of any one over the other. This Union has continued so long that the Christians know nothing of the Original of it. They are known to the English under the
Names of Mohawks, Oneydoes, Onnondagas, Cayugas and Sennekas; but it is probable that this Union at first consisted only of three Nations, viz. the Mohawks, Onnondagas and Sennekas, and that the Oneydoes and Cayugas were afterwards adopted or received into this League; for the Oneydoes acknowledge the Mohawks to be their Fathers, as the Cayugas do the Sennekas to be theirs. 9
Each of the Nations are distinguished into 3 Tribes or Families, who distinguish themselves by three different sorts of Arms or Ensigns, viz. the Tortoise, the Bear & the Wolfe. The Sachems of these Families, when they sign any Publick Papers, put the Mark or Ensign of their Family to it."
Each Nation is an absolute Republick by its self, govern’d in all Publick Affairs of War and Peace by the Sachems or Old Men, whose Authority and Power is gain'd by and consists wholly in the Opinion the rest of the Nation have of their Wisdom and Integrity." They never execute their Resolutions by Compulsion or Force upon any of their People. Honour and Esteem are their Principal Rewards, as Shame & being Despised are their Punishments. They have certain Customs which they observe in their Publick Affairs with other Nations, and in their Private Affairs among themselves, which it is scandalous for any one not to observe,
and draw after thare broke. ..obtain their Au
and draw after them publick or private Refentment when they are broke.
Their Generals and Captains obtain their Authority likewise by the general Opinion of their Courage and Conduet, and loose it by a Failure in those Vertues."
Their Great Men, both Sachems and Captains, are generally poorer than the common People, for they affect to give away and distribute all the Presents or Plunder they get in their Treaties or War, so as to leave nothing to themselves. If they should once be suspected of Selfishness, they would grow mean in the opinion of their Country-men, and would consequently loose their Authority.
Their Affairs of Great Consequence, which concern all the Nations, are Transacted in a General Meeting of the Sachems of every Nation. These Conventions are generally held at Onnondaga, which is nearly in the Center of all the Five Nations." But they have fixed upon Albany to be the Place for their Solemn Treaties with the English Colonies.
The Tuscaroras, since the War they had with the People of Carolina, fled to the Five Nations, and are now incorporated with them, so that they now properly consist of Six Nations (tho' they still retain the old Name among the English.)". The Tuscaroras, since they came under the Government of New-York, behave them
selves Government of the 5 Nations. XVII selves well, and remain peaceable and quiet: By which may be seen the advantage of using the Indians well; and, I believe, if they were still better used, (as there is room enough to do it) the Indians would be proportionably more Useful to us.
As I am fond to think, that the present state of the Indian Nations exactly shows the most Ancient and Original Condition of almost every Nation; so I believe, here we may with more certainty see the Original Form of all Government, than in the most curious Speculations of the Learned; and that the Patriarchal, and other Schemes in Politicks are no better than Hypotheses in Philofophy, and as prejudicial to real Knowledge.
I shall only add the Character which Mons. De la Poterie gives of the Five Nations in his History of North-America, viz.
« When one talks (says bë) of the Five “ Nations in France, they are thought, by a “ common Mistake, to be meer Barbarians,
always thirsting after Human Blood; but
their true Character is very different: They “ are the Fiercest and most Formidable People in “ North America, and at the same time as Po“ litick and Judicious as well can be conceiv’d. “ This appears from their Management of the “ Affairs which they Transact, not only with " the French and English, but likewise with “ almost all the Indian Nations of this vaft " Continent.
DAg. 3. line 18. for of the read of these.. P. 13.
[ l. 9.f. Naoious r. Nations. P. 17.1. 19. for Nipereriniens r. Nepiceriniens, 1. 25. dele towards the. P. 24. 1. 13. dele But. P. 28. 1. 13. for accomparied r. accompanied. P. 36. I. 11. f. was r. were. P. 74. 1. ult. f. Dedonondadik r. Deonondadik. P. 80. 1. 16. f. did not, we should r. do not, we Mall. P. 94. l. ult. f. Peterie r. Poterie. P.111.1.28.f. Prevent, Mr.r. prevent this, Mr. P. 115. 1. 23. f. when r. then. There are some other small Errors, which do not affect the Sense, and the Reader may easily correct.
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ADVERTISEMENT. NHere is now Published a M A P of the great Lakes,
Rivers and Indian Countries mentioned in the ensuing History. Printed and Sold by William Bradford in New-York.