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Joseph Johnson, letter, to the Indians at Niantic, Mohegan, Groton, Stonington, Narragansett and Montauk, 1773 December 24

ms-number: 773674.1

abstract: On behalf of himself and six other Indian signatories, Johnson strongly urges each tribe to send a delegate to confer with the Oneidas and Sir William Johnson on the subject of lands.

handwriting: Johnson's hand is small and crowded, yet mostly formal and clear. He appears to use periods as commas. The trailer along the left edge of two verso appears to be in Occom's hand.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good-to-fair condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Dark-brown ink is faded in spots.

noteworthy: An editor, likely 19th-century, has added the note "Dec. 1773 from Farmington” after the trailer on two verso. This note has not been included in the transcription.

signature: The letter is signed by Johnson and six other Indians.


Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.



Our dear. and well beloved Brethren.
we wish you all well.
your good. as well as our own. lies near at heart and we wish
you and yours the same prosperity. as ourselves. —
But not to be tedious in our Introduction. we will let you
know our design. and desire. in Sending to you this once more.
Our dear brethren. seeing that the time is nigh at hand. that
those chosen men. or others in their room. should go forth.
into the Western Country. according to the appointment of
his Honour Sir William Johnson. Baronet. and the desire
of the Oneida Indians. We say that the time is almost Come.
seeing then it is so nigh. we thought proper. to send to you
our dear Brethren this once more. humbly, and earnestly
desiring that ye would consider of things. and by all means
Let one out of each Town. or Tribe go up to the Mohawk Coun‐
‐try
. what can we say more. we have used all proper means
yea we have been much concerned concerning you our
dear Brethren. and we are Sorry. to See. So much cold‐
ness. lukewarmness. and indifference. amongst you. as ye
have discovered. since last march. 1773. what shall we
think of you. if ye do not send one out of Each Town. or Tribe.
Yea. what will General Johnson think of you. and what
will the Indians under his Special inspection think of you,
who hath, by the Great Influence of his Honor Sir William
given us great. and unexpected Encouragement. We pray
you to consider of things Seriously.
True. it is. that we are under a great disadvantage by
such a great body of Snow. which is upon the face of the Earth.
which Will hinder us. from making a proper observation
on the Land given to us. yet let not the present Snow Stop
you by no means. though we cant See the Land as we wish
we could. yet we can converse with our Western Brethren
the Oneidas. about the Land. yea it is highly necessary
that we go. and talk with our distant friends. and hear
for ourselves. and See how those Indians are disposed toward
us. and receive further orders or advise from our Great friend
the Honorable. Sir William Johnson. Baronet. Yea we think
we could do much. by this Winters Journey. we could do so
much as that we need not go up again. until we go to Set‐
‐tle the Land. Yea, we could have the Land Secured to us. or
rather. So much Land made over to us. and ours after us. as
the Indians will think proper. to grant us. be it more or
less. Our friends. if ye had not Agreed to Send one out of each

Each Tribe last Spring. we would not have Sent to you
So often. but we are hoping that ye will not be angry
with us. Seeing that we have acquainted General Johnson,
Several times. what we agreed last Spring. at Mohegan.
and Sir William doth certainly expect you. or one out
of Each Tribe by all means at this time. he told us when
we were at his house. the Indians would think Strange if
only two or three come up to the Congress. when Six, or
Seven were expected. General Johnson told us. that he
Sent a word to them Indians telling them. that one
out of Each Tribe was Coming to converse with them. and
they Expect us. all. by the 10th Day of January next. So how
can ye help yourselves. Can ye deny that ye promised
to Send one out of Each Tribe. must we let the World know
that we are Indians by Nature. and by Practice. but we
must End. begging. entreating. and humbly beseeching you
all Our dear Brethren to do those things which are right.
which are praiseworthy. Do those things which become
men. do those things which become Christians.
So fare you well. we wish you well. and We expect
at least Some young men from Each town. by
the first day of January next. Which will be on Saturday.
So on the first Monday. of January we propose to Set off.
but with what face. can we go alone again. O friends we
hardly dare to go alone again. Consider us. Consider yourselves
consider of General Johnson. Consider of the Mohawks. etc.:

thus much at present from us your Brethren
 at Farmington.
Joseph Johnson.
Solomon Massuck}
Elijah Wympy}
Daniel Massuck}
Andrew CoComp}
Solomon Adams}
David Robin.}
To all Indians at Nian‐
tic
. Mohegan. Groton.
Stonington. Narragansett.
and Long Island. or at
Montauk.— — —

Blank page.

To the. Indians
Concerning Oneida
Lands —
To—
All, Who are truly
Engaged in the Mohawk
Affair.
Johnson, Joseph

Joseph Johnson was a Mohegan who studied at Moor’s Indian Charity School and became one of the most important organizers of the Brothertown Movement (a composite tribe composed of Christian members of seven Southern New England Algonquian settlements). He was a prolific writer and his papers are relatively well-preserved. Johnson’s writing is especially noteworthy for his skillful use of Biblical allusion and his awareness of the contradiction that he, as an educated Native American, presented to white colonists. Johnson arrived at Moor’s in 1758, when he was seven years old, and studied there until 1766, when he became David Fowler’s usher at Kanawalohale. He continued teaching in Oneida territory until the end of 1768, when Samuel Kirkland sent him home in disgrace for drunkeness and bad behavior. After a stint teaching at Providence, Rhode Island, and working on a whaling ship, Johnson returned to Mohegan in 1771 and became a zealous Christian. He opened a school at Farmington, CT, in 1772, for which he seems to have received some minimal support from the New England Company. From his base at Farmington, he began organizing Southern New England Algonquians for the Brothertown project. The goal was to purchase land from the Oneidas, the most Christianized of the Six Nations, and form a Christian Indian town incorporating Algonquian and Anglo-American elements. Johnson spent the rest of his short life garnering necessary support and legal clearance for the Brothertown project. Johnson died sometime between June 10, 1776 and May 1777, at 25 or 26 years old, six or seven years before Brothertown was definitively established in 1783. He was married to Tabitha Occom, one of Samson Occom’s daughters. She lived at Mohegan with their children even after Brothertown’s founding, and none of their children settled at Brothertown permanently. Like most of Wheelock’s successful Native American students, Johnson found that he could not satisfy his teacher's contradictory standards for Native Americans. Although Johnson's 1768 dismissal created a hiatus in their relationship, Johnson reopened contact with Wheelock after his re-conversion to a degree that other former students, such as Samson Occom, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, never did.

Johnson, William

Sir William Johnson was a powerful British colonial official who amassed wealth and influence by integrating into the Mohawk tribe. For a brief window of time (1761-1768), he provided support for Wheelock’s missionary efforts among the Six Nations. He also helped the Brothertown Nation of Indians procure land from the Oneidas. Johnson was born in Ireland in 1715. His family had been part of the Catholic elite, but after William of Orange’s 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne, they at least nominally converted to the Episcopalian Church. In 1738, Johnson emigrated to America to manage his uncle Peter Warren’s estate in Mohawk territory. Over the next decade, Johnson became wealthy in his own right through trade and land sales, acquiring a vast estate crowned by his manor house, Johnson Hall, which became the central location for British and Indian treaty making. In 1745, Johnson began collecting official British titles and positions. He played an important military role in the French and Indian War and was named Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1756 and first baronet of New York in 1757. Much of Johnson’s success was due to his influence among the Mohawks, which he obtained by learning their language and customs and integrating himself into their society. He participated in Mohawk rituals and entered into a common-law marriage with a powerful Mohawk woman, Molly Brant (also called Mary Brant). Because Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) society is matrilineal, this marriage was an essential element of his participation in Indian affairs. Wheelock desperately wanted to wield missionary influence among the Six Nations, and sought to obtain Johnson as an ally in his endeavors. At first, the two found grounds for cooperation. Wheelock sent Occom as a missionary to the Oneidas in 1761 and again in 1762, and sent a substantially larger group of missionaries and schoolmasters in 1765, 1766, and 1767. Johnson, meanwhile, encouraged Haudenosaunee children, including his brother-in-law Joseph Brant, to attend Moor’s. Johnson’s support proved indispensible to missionaries in the field; he helped with supplies, language skills, and relations with the Mohawks and Oneidas. Wheelock also valued Johnson for his influence in Britain, and drew on him for recommendations and public statements of support numerous times. From 1763 on, however, Johnson found himself decidedly uncomfortable with Wheelock’s missionary efforts, and by 1769, their relationship had dissolved completely. In 1766, Johnson was invited to join the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), the largest and most influential Anglican missionary society in the 18th-century British-Atlantic world. He began working to place Anglican missionaries, rather than Congregationalist and Presbyterian ones, among the Six Nations, which alarmed Wheelock. Johnson was generally supportive of Native American tribes’ efforts to maintain their land and sovereignty. As the historian Linford Fisher has noted, “virtually every major Native group in southeastern New England successfully petitioned Johnson to act on their behalf during the late 1760s and early 1770s.” Among these groups was the Brothertown Nation, a Christian composite tribe formed by Southern New England Algonquian Moor’s alumni. Johnson helped them negotiate with the Oneidas, which proved essential to their successful land purchase and relocation to central New York.

Massuck, Solomon

Solomon Massuck was a Farmington Tuxnis who was a prominent community member and converted Christian. His son, Daniel Massuck, attended Moor’s for a brief time in 1762. Solomon often played host to Joseph Johnson during the latter's time at Farmington. Both Samuel and Daniel were very involved in the early push to found Brothertown (a composite tribe of Algonquian Indians from the Long Island Sound region, organized and populated largely by former members of Moor’s Indian Charity School): both appear frequently as signatories on letters on the topic, and it was Solomon Massuck who asked for a Connecticut law book to produce the new settlement’s laws. However, neither Samuel nor Daniel actually emigrated to Brothertown (although Luke Massuck, either Solomon’s son or his grandson, did, for a brief time). Perhaps because they had been brought into the movement by Joseph Johnson, after Joseph Johnson’s death (sometime during the Revolution years) they were no longer invested.

Wympy, Elijah

Elijah Wympy was a prominent Farmington Indian who was instrumental in establishing Brothertown, yet he subsequently led a group that disregarded the primary vision of the community. In his early years he was a student at the school in Farmington, CT, and in 1757 he served in the Seven Years’ War. During negotiations around 1773 between the Oneida and New England Indians concerning a tract of land, Wympy acted as a delegate for Farmington and asked other tribes to send envoys too. The Oneidas granted the territory the following year, and in 1775 Wympy was among the first to move to what became Brothertown. He was chosen as a trustee of the town in 1785, but around this time the Oneidas attempted to reclaim the land. Accordingly, Wympy participated in the effort to maintain the territory. Fortunately, when the state of New York gained Oneida territory in 1788, it acknowledged the Christian Indians’ right to the tract as it had originally been granted; the state passed an act in 1789 that recognized the Indians’ property and instituted a 10-year limit on leases for lots. Wympy and his followers, comprised mainly of outsiders, thus leased numerous parcels, including invaluable ones, to white settlers. Occom strongly opposed this and petitioned the Assembly, which passed an act in 1791 restricting the power to lease lands to the council. While Occom and Wympy had previously been friends -- Wympy had even partaken in the movement to establish Occom as the local minister -- their disagreement on the issue of leasing Brothertown lands to whites opened a strong divide between them. Wympy apparently regretted his actions, for in 1794 he was among the signers of an address to the governor seeking to remove the whites. He remained in Brothertown until his death around 1802.

Massuck, Daniel

Daniel Massuck was a Farmington Tuxnis who attended Moor’s for a few months in 1762 and fought in the Revolution. His father, Samuel Massuck, had converted to Christianity, and Daniel Massuck was raised as a Christian. The family was prominent in Farmington affairs, and played host to Joseph Johnson on numerous occasions. Both Samuel and Daniel were very involved in the early push to found Brothertown (a composite tribe of Algonquian Indians from the Long Island Sound region, organized and populated largely by former members of Moor’s Indian Charity School): both appear frequently as signatories on letters on the topic, and it was Samuel Massuck who asked for a Connecticut law book to produce the new settlement’s laws. However, neither Samuel nor Daniel actually emigrated to Brothertown (although Luke Massuck, Daniel Massuck’s son or brother, did, for a brief time). Perhaps because they had been brought into the movement by Joseph Johnson, after Joseph Johnson’s death (sometime during the Revolution years) they were no longer invested.

Cocomp, Andrew
Adams, Solomon
Robin, David
HomeJoseph Johnson, letter, to the Indians at Niantic, Mohegan, Groton, Stonington, Narragansett and Montauk, 1773 December 24
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