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EDWARD COLE, INDIAN COMMISSIONER IN THE

ILLINOIS COUNTRY.

By Clarence Walworth Alvord. The manuscripts of Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Department, now preserved in the New York State Library, form a mine of historical information concerning the West, which has been almost unworked. The following letters from Edward Cole and others concerning Indian affairs in the Illinois country are fair specimens of the richness that has been so long hidden. Within the past year there has been published a Calendar” of these documents so that it will be no longer difficult for students to make use of them."

After the treaty of peace of 1763, one of the most difficult problems confronting the British ministry was the management of Indian affairs. For the first time the imperial officials were brought into contact with the tribes of the far west and Canada; and the outbreak of the Indian war known as the “Conspiracy of Pontiac" taught them the danger of mistakes in handling this delicate situation. The ministry planned an elaborate organization in the spring of 1764 by which the whole territory outside the settled portions of the colonies was to be placed under the government of two superintendents assisted by deputies. The cost of this organization would

1Calendar of the Sir William Johnson Manuscripts in the New York State Library, N. Y. State, Educ. Dept., Albany, 1909.

have proved so great that it was never legally put in operation on account of the failure to secure an act of Parliament to tax the Indian commerce. The superintendents were instructed, however, to put in operation such portions of the plan as could be done without too great an expense.

The Illinois country was within the Ohio district of the Northern Department. Sir William Johnson was superintendent; and George Croghan was his deputy agent for the district, and established his headquarters at Fort Pitt. Shortly after the occupation of Fort de Chartres, Sir William appointed Edward Cole commissary for the Illinois sub-district. The first paper published in the following pages is the form of instructions issued to commissaries, and from its perusal the reader will understand the powers granted to Cole at this time. Since the Indian department was a part of the military organization, Cole was obliged to act in conjunction with the military commandant at Fort de Chartres.

The cost of maintaining the Indian department and the hopelessness of taxing the colonies for that purpose caused the British ministry, in 1768, to throw the responsibility for the regulation of the Indian trade upon the colonies. Edward Cole, whose expenses had been particularly heavy, was thereupon recalled and the correspondence, here published, ends with his letters written on the homeward journey. Form of Instructions to the Commissaries of Indian

Affairs, Johnson Hall, March 24, 1767. [Sir William Johnson Mss, vol. 25, p. 84. Draft] Instructions for [blank] Comissary of Indian Affairs at [blank ].

You are immediately to proceed to [blank] where you are to reside as Commissary, And on your Arrival you are to Acquaint the Indians of your being appointed to inspect into the Trade, prevent abuses therein, and trans

mackc. every 6.

act all business [sic] with them under my direction-That an Interpreter and Smith are also appointed to act for them Gratis in the respective capacitys, under your direction.

You are to shew your Warrt. & communicate your Instructions to the Commanding Officer, applying to him for Quarters in the most convenient place for the reception of the Indians, & for Yourself, the Interpreter, and Smith with provisions and fire-wood.

The inspection of Trade, correcting abuses, redressing Grievances, gaining intelligence of all ill designs, & securing the friendship of the Indians, being the Principal Objects of your Appointment, you will dilligently apply yourself to discharge these important Trusts, to which end you are imediately to inform yourself of the manner in which Trade has been hitherto carried on, and the most reasonable prices of Goods, and Peltry, The NB. Michili. Strength, Connections and Interests of the several Tribes Months. De about you with their Sachems, Warriors &ca all which Niagara, and you are to Report without delay to Guy Johnson Esqr. 3 Months. Deputy Agent for the middle District. And you are to make regular entrys of all Occurrences and Transactions a fair copy of which on Folio you are to transmit to my said Deputy every Three Months, or Oftener if the Service require it. You are also to keep an Exact Accot of the quantity, and Value of Goods, and the like of Peltry traded off at your post as well as such as pass to other Garrisons, transmitting the same annually to my said Deputy and for yr. farther Governmt. with regard to trade &c you are now furnished, with a Copy of Regulations to which you are to see that due Obedience is paid.

Your are not to incurr any expense without orders from Me, or my Deputy beyond what is absolutely necessary for Pipes, Tobacco, or a Dram occasionally to the Inds., and you are to satisfy any Indians who may be troublesome on that bead by Explaining to them the Expense the Govt. is at by these Appointments, and shew

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ing them the Nature of Your Office and that whatever Presents may be occasionally bestowed on those Nations who best deserve it, will be done by the Superintendant, or His Deputy. That it is Expected they will Shew their Gratitude for the Appointments already made That they will abide firmly by their Engagements and Live in peace and friendship with all his Majestys Subjects, as the only means they have to Intitle themselves to a continuance of this Establishment, or to the hopes of farther favors.

The Interpreter, and Smith are to be subject to your Orders to apply themselves diligently to their dutys, without accepting of any Gratification from the Indians, or being concerned in any Trade or business [sic] on pain of imediate Removal, And you are to inspect Strictly into their conduct in their Respective Capacitys, The better to enable you to do which, You will apply yourself to study the Language of the Neighboring Indians.

You are to keep Regular and Just Accots. of all Expenses you are Authorized to incurr Transmitting the same with proper Vouchers from the Comdg. Officer together with the Amt. of Your Sally. and that of the Interpreter and Smith to the sd Deputy presiding over the District, half yearly, that is to say to the 24th of March and September in each year, and these are to be sent in sufficient time to be included in my Genl. Accots. transmitted imediately after these periods.

Lastly, you are on these or any other Subjects which fall within your Duty to do your utmost to the best of your Judgment for promoting the Service you are sent upon, Studiously Applying yourself to discover the Sentiments and Designs of the Indians, Acquiring their Confidence by Integrity, Mildness, and a Strict Attention to their Affairs and promoting to your utmost that harmony which should subsist between them, and the Soldiery, Traders, or others at the Garrison.

Given under my hand at Johnson-hall the 24th

day of March 1767. [Endorsement] Form of Instructions to the Commissys

of Indian Affairs at Michilimackinac, Niagara, and Ontario &c for 1767.

Commissary Edward Cole to Sir William Johnson, Detroit, June 23, 1766.

[Sir William Johnson Mss, vol. 12, p. 218. A. L. S.] Dear Sir.

Your kind favor of the 17th of Apl. I received Yesterday with your appointment of me to be commissary of Indien affairs at the Illinois, You may be assured I shall Strictly adhear to your Instructions, and shall leave this in two or three days for Fort Pitt, to go down the Ohio. upon adviseing with my friends, 'Tis thought, the best, Safest, and most Expeditious Rout I could take, and should Mr. Croghan have left Fort Pitt, I shall soon join him at Illinois.

The honour you have done me in appointing me to that important Trust, I shall ever Greatfully acknowledge, I foresee many Difficultys in the discharge of that duty, and only wish, that through a Stedy application for the General good, I may be capable of Acquitting myself with houour and Credit to the Department.

Three Illinois Indians are here, a principal Chief, a Son of Dequones & another, they would have been with you at the Congress had not Pondiac stab'd the Chief, I hope he will recover, I have applied to the Commedant for provisions for them till he recovers and shall treat them Very Civilly, which may be of Service as they pass through so many Indians on their Return:

I now beg leave to Congratulate you upon the honour confered on your son in England and doubt not he will continue to merrit Every mark of Esteem shewn him; I.

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