Original Document
Original Document
A Speech from the Carlisle Treaty, 1753

The records of colonial Indian treaties consist mostly of speeches exchanged between the Indian and colonial participants. This speech made by the Pennsylvania commissioners at the Carlisle treaty illustrates the role that Indian customs played in shaping these proceedings.

At a Meeting of the Commissioners, and Indians, at Carlisle, the 2d of October, 1753.

The Commissioners, The same Indians as Yesterday,
The Magistrates, and several Gentlemen of the County.

The Speech of the Commissioners.

Brethren, Six Nations, Delawares, Shawonese, Twightwees, and Owendaets,

Now that your Hearts are eased of their Grief, and we behold one another with cheerful Countenances, we let you know that the Governor, and good People of Pennsylvania, did not send us to receive you empty-handed; but put something into our Pockets, to be given to such as should favour us with this friendly Visit: These Goods we therefore request you would accept of, and divide amongst all that are of your Company, in such Proportions as shall be agreeable to you. You know how to do this better than we. What we principally desire, is, that you will consider this Present as a Token of our cordial Esteem for you; and use it with a Frugality becoming your Circumstances, which call at this Time for more than ordinary Care.


With Pleasure we behold here the Deputies of five different Nations, viz. the United Six Nations, the Delawares, the Shawonese, the Twightwees, and the Owendaets. Be pleased to cast your Eyes toward this Belt, whereon six Figures are delineated, holding one another by the Hands. This is just a Resemblance of our present Union: The five first Figures representing the five Nations, to which you belong, as the sixth does the Government of Pennsylvania; with whom you are linked in a close and firm Union. In whatever Part the Belt is broke, all the Wampum runs off, and renders the Whole of no Strength or Consistency. In like Manner, should you break Faith with one another, or with this Government, the Union is dissolved. We would therefore hereby place before you the Necessity of preserving your Faith entire to one another, as well as to this Government. Do not separate: Do not part on any Score. Let no Differences nor Jealousies subsist a Moment between Nation and Nation; but join all together as one Man, sincerely and heartily. We on our Part shall always perform our Engagements to every one of you.

In Testimony whereof, we present you with this Belt.

Credit: Leonard W. Labaree, et al., eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 5 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962), 93-94.
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