Letter from Arthur Dobbs to William H. Lyttelton, May 27, 1757
I have your Excellency's Letter of the 15th with a Copy of a Letter from Mr. Evans of the 11th instant, by which I find there are two Indians gone to Charlestown to complain of our building a fort in their Towns, and I find by your Letter that King Haglar had made a Complaint to you last Summer that we were dispossessing them of their Lands.
I had before upon Intimations of their Complaints given strict Orders to our Surveyors not to go near their Towns, and that no lands near them shou'd be allowed to be taken up without a formal Sale from these Indians as a Nation to his Majesty agreed upon with this Government, and not by any private Contract with private persons, and gave Notice to the Settlers that if they took up Lands near them unknown to this Government (which is frequently done by Rogues without Grants to make Money and sell their Rights as they call it to others, by marking Trees and then selling those Lands to new Comers Strangers, pretending they have taken a Grant for them) that they shou'd have no protection from this Government; for it has always been my Opinion that We ought to purchase all Lands from the neighbouring Indians before we make Settlements as a piece of Justice due to them, and our failing in that point has been a great Cause of all our Indian Wars, & Loss of their friendship; at the same time I thought it a bold Step in Mr. Glenn without Advice from England to make a formal Promise to the Catawbas of a Circle of 30 Miles Radius above 2,000,000 of Acres to give them a foundation to complain, when our Tuskerora Indians, when as numerous as the Catawbas, agreed to and were content with 10000 Acres, however I thought it prudent to stop Grants until after the War, when that point shou'd be settled with the Catawbas by proper purchase with their general Consent.
As to the other point about building the fort, I shall lay the whole fully before you, and then you may judge whether this Province is to be blamed or Commended for what they have done. I have always thought it of the greatest Consequence to preserve the friendship of all our Neighbouring Indians and particularly to please protect and defend the Catawbas as our particular friends and near Neighbours, and therefore joined Governor Dinwiddie at his request in sending a Commission to Captain Waddell who commands a Company of provincials in our frontiers to go with the Virginia Commissioners and in Conjunction with them to confirm our Alliance with the Catawbas and Cherokees and endeavour to prevail with them to send a Body from each Nation to assist the Virginians and sign'd a particular Treaty with the Catawbas along with the Virginian Commissioners to send a Body of 40 Catawbas last Spring was twelve Month to their Assistance. Some time after this in May following King Haglar not having fulfilled his promise, but having rescued a white Woman and several Goods which the Cherokees had robbed our planters of upon their return from Virginia, came with his Sachems and a Body of Indians to the Supreme Court held by Chief Justice Henley at Salisbury, and held a Talk with Mr. Henley, a Copy of which I send you and refer to, wherein they press to have a fort near them to protect their Wives and Children when they shou'd go to War to assist us their Brethren, and to supply them with Arms & Ammunition and other trifles, and upon the Chief Justice complaining that they had not fulfilled their promise in going to assist the Virginians, they told him they had recd. a Letter from Mr. Glenn Charging them not to go without his Leave; Upon this parlance being sent to me I ordered them immediately some Ammunition having no Arms to spare and none fit for Indians, and wrote for Wampum for them, there being none in the province, and upon their requesting us to build them a fort, I applied at the next Meeting of the Assembly for a Sum of Money to build it and for a Company to defend it and protect their Wives and Children in their Absence, which the Assembly approved of and complied with, and I thought in what I did I was doing a good thing not only for this province but for all the Colonies in general, and a particular piece of friendship to your Colony as easing you of that Expence, since the Virginians had done the like in building a fort amongst the Cherokees.
Upon the passing of the Act I sent up Commissioners upon their Application two of their Members to look out for a proper Situation for the fort, and gave them Instructions to proceed to the Catawba's Nation, and to apply to King Haglar and their Sachems and to agree with them in a proper Situation, and the most convenient place they shou'd choose for their Safety and defence, and Captain Waddell being then on the frontier joined them, and upon the Return of the Commissioners, after King Haglar and the Sachems had agreed pointed out the place and had promised them Land for the Conveniency of the Garrison, I approved of the plan and Situation and gave them orders to proceed as soon as possible with the Building in order to their sending out a Body to assist the Virginians; the Fort was laid out between their Towns, and the only Contest between them was who shou'd have it nearest to their Towns this I send you assisted under the hands of the Commissioners and certified by Captain Waddell.
Mr. Brown having been recommended by the Assembly to me to undertake the work, I ordered him as soon as possible to carry up Workmen to proceed upon it, and some time after he returned he found that Colonel Polly, sent I suppose by your Excellency's Order to distribute some Corn to the Indians; had under that pretence been instilling fears and Jealousies into the Indians, and alienating thier Affections from the Northern Province, and had prevailed with King Haglar to stop it, or have it placed on the Catawba's fort, upon which Mr. Brown was obliged to call together the remaining Chiefs who had not gone to Virginia, and they all agreed to have it built where it had been before agreed to be placed. Upon Mr. Brown's coming down he made a Complaint to me against Colonel Polly, and gave me the Minutes he then took from the Interpreter of what Polly had insinuated to the Indians, of which I was resolved to complain to your Excellency and of which I now send you a Copy; from this you will see from what Spring the Complaints of the 2 Indians sent to you proceed, and you will perfectly judge of the integrity of my Intentions & Proceedings, and will see the Cause of Complaint proceeds from some selfish Ends of Colonel Polly's. After what We have done I shall desire your immediate Answer to this; and shall in the mean time stop Mr. Brown from proceeding until I hear from you, and as I have sent to England the Catawbas Application to me to build them a fort, and acquainted the Board of Trade with the Assembly's Grant and my proceeding upon it, if you will let me know that it is the Opinion of your province that I shou'd not build the fort and dismiss the Company, so that I may justify my Compliance to your Request in England, I am satisfied that this Assembly will be very well pleased to be eased of the Expence of the fort and Garrison as you have the full State of it before you, let me have your full thoughts of it.
I have prevailed with the Assembly to raise two Companies of 100 Men each to go to the Assistance of your province, and I find in Case they are wanted great Difficulties in paying them there, and believe their Cloathing must be procured from thence, and what Beeves we can spare from hence will not be sufficient to answer the Remittances to pay them, and I find there are Duties laid upon our Commodities in South Carolina particularly upon Naval Stores, as we can have no Credit but by making Remittances, I hope you will think it a proper Measure to take off such Duties upon Goods we may send to pay the Companies when there, and to buy them Cloathing, for if We can't have Credit by proper Remittances, it may oblige us to delay their going, or oblige us to recall them if they can't be paid.
I hope you will let me know if you want immediate Aid that I may send you what are ready, before the others can be raised, and if you shou'd think that what are sent you from the Northward are at present sufficient as you mayn't have Quarters ready for more, then I shall delay sending them until you demand them but keep them ready on the frontier to send them upon the first Notice from you.
I shall be much pleased to hear that you are in no Immediate Apprehensions of Danger. I am with great Regard
most obedient and most humble Servant.
New Bern 27th May 1757.
P.S. I shou'd be pleased that Mr. Atkins was come to take the Weight of Indian Affairs from us Governors, but if he continue to be as dilatory in his proceedings as he has set out with, I am afraid he will make it a SineCure, and enjoy his Salary without giving himself much Trouble in Indian Affairs.