Original Document
Original Document
Conrad Weiser's Diplomacy with the Ohio Indians, 1748.

As an Indian agent for Pennsylvania and other colonial governments, Conrad Weiser traveled far and wide to attend diplomatic councils, deliver speeches, and make presents. One such trip took him to the Ohio Country in fall 1748, where he met with western Delaware, Seneca, Shawnee, and Wyandot Indians who expressed interest in allying with the British against the French in that region. Weiser represented the governments of Pennsylvania and Virginia on this trip, and this excerpt from one of his speeches illustrates the methods and metaphors of frontier diplomacy.

"Brethren, you that live on Ohio: I am sent to you by the President and Council of Pennsylvania, and I am now going to speak to You on their behalf. I desire you will take Notice and hear what I shall say."

-Gave a String of Wampum.

"Brethren: Some of You have been in Philadelphia last Fall and acquainted us that You had taken up the English Hatchet, and that you had already made use of it against the French, and that the French had very hard heads, and your Country afforded nothing but Sticks and Hickerys which was not sufficient to break them. You desired your Brethren wou'd assist You with some Weapons sufficient to do it. Your Brethren the Presid[en]t and Council promis'd you then to send something to You next Spring by Tharachiawagon [Weiser's Indian name], but as some other affairs prevented his Journey to Ohio, you receiv'd a Supply by George Croghan [a Pennsylvania fur trader] sent you by your said Brethren; but before George Croghan came back from Ohio News came from over the Great Lake that the King of Great Britain and the French King had agreed upon a Cessation of Arms for Six Months and that a Peace was very likely to follow. Your Brethren, the President and Council, were then in a manner at a loss what to do. It did not become them to act contrary to the command of the King, and it was out of their power to encourage you in the War against the French; but as your Brethren never miss'd fulfilling their Promises, they have upon second Consideration thought proper to turn the intended Supply into a Civil and Brotherly Present, and have accordingly sent me with it, and here are the Goods before your Eyes, which I have by your Brethren's Order, divided into 5 Shares and layd in 5 different heaps, one heap whereof your Brother Assaraquoa [Virginia] sent to You to remember his Friendship and Unity with You. . . . A French Peace is a very uncertain One, they keep it no longer than their Interest permits, then they break it without provocation given them. The French King's People have almost star'd in old France for want of Provision, which made them wish and seek for Peace; but our wise People are of opinion that after their Bellies are full they will quarrel again and raise a War. All nations in Europe know that their Friendship is mix'd with Poison, and many that trusted too much on their Friendship have been ruin'd.

"I now conclude and say, that we the English are your true Brethren at all Events, in token whereof receive this Present."

Credit: Reuben Gold Thwaites, ed., Early Western Travels, 1748-1846, vol. 1 (Cleveland: A.H. Clark, 1904), 38-41.
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